Toronto Blue Jays News

The top 10 Toronto Blue Jays Players of the 2010’s

Bevan Hamilton
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 2: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays tosses his bat aside as he lines out in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Texas Rangers on May 2, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 2: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays tosses his bat aside as he lines out in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Texas Rangers on May 2, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Aug 3, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin (55) is greeted in the dugout after hitting a solo-home run against the Seattle Mariners during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /

6. Russell Martin: 2015-2018

I debated putting Russell Martin higher on this list because I felt like he contributed more to the Blue Jays teams of the 2010’s. And maybe he did. After all, in the decade, he contributed the fourth-highest WAR behind Bautista, Encarnacion, and Donaldson. It certainly goes to show what kind of a decade it was for the Blue Jays. Although Martin only played two full seasons – he was hurt for at least half of 2017 and 2018 – his 447 games played were the eight-most of the decade, and his value shows itself in the 11.3 WAR posted.

It marked the start of something new that day in November 2014 when the Blue Jays introduced Martin after signing him to a five-year, $82-million contract. Part of it was an elite catcher, the first for the Blue Jays in a long time and part of it was he was the best Canadian-born baseball player at the time. Martin posted a strong year in 2015, despite a slow start. It was the best production from the catching position in quite some time. Martin slugged 23 home runs, drove in 77 runs, and put together a nice stat line of .240/.329/.458 with a .787 OPS, all of which ranked in the top of catcher production for the year.

We are at that point in the lockout where we are counting down the top 10 Blue Jays of the 2010’s and what they accomplished with the organization.

Behind the plate, Martin had always been known for his ability to throw runners out, and his move to Toronto only continued that. In 2015, Martin threw out a career-high 44 percent of runners attempting to take a free base. The league average that year was 32 percent. His 32 runners thrown out led the league. It’s worth noting that particular stat dropped way down to 15 percent in 2016, as Martin allowed a league-high 61 runners to steal a base. In 2015, Martin was a finalist for the Gold Glove award, although he didn’t win it.

Like many of the Blue Jays hitters, Martin struggled in the postseason, going just 7-for-59 across two years in the Wild Card, ALDS, and ALCS rounds. It’s also hard to quantify the intangibles that players bring to a clubhouse and it’s perhaps overtalked about.

However, Martin did bring a wealth of postseason and major league experience and a leadership presence that the 2015 and 2016 teams certainly needed and reportedly benefited from. No, he wasn’t as elite a catcher as he had been for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in his career, but his 2015 season at the least is the best single-season season from a catcher, especially including both offensive and defensive metrics of the last 20 years.

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