Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is a statistical metric used to quantify a player's overall contribution to their team compared to that of a hypothetical replacement-level player. WAR is designed to provide a single value that represents a player's total value in various aspects of the game, including offense, defense, and base-running, relative to the average performance of other players at their position. It takes into account a player's individual statistics, such as batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, stolen bases, and defensive metrics, among others. It compares these numbers to the performance of an average or replacement-level player, factoring in park effects, league averages, and positional adjustments.
The Blue Jays have had several great pitchers in their franchise history, but who would make up the teams' all-time best starting pitching rotation? Using the WAR metric, these five pitchers had the largest impact with the team.
SP1: Dave Stieb - 56.8 WAR
Dave Stieb was a great pitcher whose illustrious career spanned from 1979 to 1998. He was best known for his exceptional durability and consistency, earning a reputation as a workhorse who frequently pitching deep into games and often leading the league in innings pitched. His pitching arsenal primarily featured a formidable fastball and a tightly controlled slider. Throughout his career, Stieb found himself in high-pressure situations, coming agonizingly close to three no-hitters, losing each of them with two outs in the 9th inning. However, in 1990, he achieved the ultimate feat by throwing the first (and to this day, only) no-hitter in the history of the Toronto Blue Jays against the Cleveland Indians.
Stieb's remarkable twelve seasons with the Blue Jays were characterized by exceptional statistical achievements, firmly establishing his legacy as one of the franchise's finest. He is the franchise leader in WAR with 56.8, and is the all-time leader in wins with 175, innings pitched with 2873, a total of 1,658 strikeouts, along with 103 complete games and 30 shutouts. These extraordinary contributions earned Stieb a well-deserved induction into the esteemed Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, as well as a coveted place among the elite ten members of the Blue Jays Level of Excellence. With his remarkable accomplishments and enduring impact, Stieb firmly solidifies his position as one of the greatest players in the storied history of the Toronto Blue Jays.