The top 10 Toronto Blue Jays Players of the 2010’s
5. Marcus Stroman: 2014-2019
Maybe it didn’t seem like it, but Marcus Stroman was as much a key part of the 2010’s as any other player. Stroman started more games (135) for the Blue Jays last decade than any other pitcher, throwing only fewer innings (789.2) than R.A. Dickey. His 14.9 WAR certainly easily beats every other Blue Jays pitcher of the decade.
Stroman was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2012 and came up in early 2014 and never looked back. Together with fellow top prospect Aaron Sanchez, they represented the future of the Blue Jays rotation. Despite Stroman’s five-foot-seven stature, he made up for it in confidence, determination, and a six-pitch arsenal which he consistently throws for strikes. In particular, Stroman has thrown his sinker to account for more than 42 percent of all pitches he has thrown because it is consistently effective to produce a ground ball.
Perhaps what really endeared Stroman to fans was in early 2015, after tearing his ACL during Spring Training. The injury was expected to keep Stroman out the entire season, but in a typical “Height Don’t Measure Heart’ way, the pitcher tweeted out “The return shall be legendary” and he wasn’t wrong. Taking advantage of his time, Stroman returned to Duke University while rehabbing and completed his degree in Sociology. In September, he returned well ahead of what was expected and helped the Blue Jays clinch a division win by posting absurd stats: 4-0 in four starts with a 1.67 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and no walks in 27 innings. He wasn’t as stellar in the postseason but still good, throwing two quality starts in three opportunities.
Stroman threw more than 200 innings in both 2016 and 2017, winning a Gold Glove Award and receiving Cy Young votes in the latter year. He finished fifth in pitcher WAR that year as well, but perhaps the highlight was this home run in May. Stroman and catcher Luke Maille became the first batterymates to hit back-to-back home runs since 1970.
The same swagger that caused Toronto to fall in love with Stroman may have played a big part in the souring of relationships – with former best friend Sanchez, with Blue Jays management when Stroman publicly criticized them during arbitration, and with the fanbase. At first, it’s cute, but at some point, it turns into something else. The Blue Jays were rebuilding anyways and traded Stroman to the New York Mets shortly after he played in his first All-Star game amidst another strong season. The Blue Jays acquired Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay in the deal. The former turned into Jose Berrios and the latter will likely be a source of depth for the team in 2022.
Stroman signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs just before the lockout, worth $71 million.