Blue Jays: Top-five first basemen in franchise history

Evan Gignac
League Championship - Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Four
League Championship - Kansas City Royals v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Four / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages
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Since the inaugural 1977 season, the Toronto Blue Jays have been treated to a number of quality first basemen. A number of All-Star appearances, Silver Sluggers, Gold Gloves, and memorable performances have been had from the storied first basemen in team history. Going through the team history of players at this position, I was pleasantly surprised at how difficult something like this was to arrange. Coming to an organized top five players through the team’s history was not easy.

I didn’t set any specific ground rules for myself while assembling this list, such as a minimum number of plate appearances or years played with the Blue Jays. Instead I’ll be paying close attention to counting stats, memorable moments, and overall talent.

With that being said, there’s some players that didn’t make the cut. Whether it’s a result of not enough years played, good vibes but not enough accomplishments, or their career not being over, here are the honorable mentions.

Willie Upshaw

The second mainstay first baseman in team history, Upshaw was a stud with the Jays from 1978-1987. Upshaw produced an OPS+ of 102 during his nine year Blue Jays tenure, averaging 124 games played a year. His average offensive numbers would come to .265/.336/.762, with 12 home runs per year. "Solid" would be the word I use to describe Upshaw, and having been a 2000 baby I was never privileged enough to watch him live, but he deserves a mention in this piece.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Guerrero deserves a mention here, but I can’t reasonably rank him among the top five yet. Since 2019, even with the COVID-shortened 2020 season, Vladdy’s already hit 104 home runs and has a career 135 OPS+. The former top prospect even has a Gold Glove now. The kid's a stud, and more years with the club will put him at the top of this list, but for now we must live in the moment.

Lyle Overbay

A model of consistency, Overbay was outshined by the other sluggers of his time, but he still brought value. He averaged 145 games a year, while producing an OPS+ of 110 during his five seasons as a Blue Jay.

Justin Smoak

An afterthought during the competitive seasons of 2015 and 2016, Smoak stuck around and shined when given consistent playing time. An All-Star in 2017, Smoak averaged an OPS+ of 113 from 2015-2019, while providing great defense at first. Smoak would depart in free agency before finding himself in Japan to finish his professional career in 2021.

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