Blue Jays: Top-five greatest catchers in franchise history

Toronto Blue Jays
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No. 1 Ernie Whitt

Ernie Whitt was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1972 and was promoted to the majors for a handful of games in 1976. But in what became a franchise-defining move, Toronto swooped in and grabbed the as-yet unproven catcher in the 1976 expansion draft.

Whitt turned out to be the team's longest-serving player from that expansion draft, playing in 1218 games from the inaugural 1977 season until being traded to Atlanta following the 1989 season.

He was the team's primary backstop as the Jays rose to prominence through the 1980s and experienced their first tastes of success. He helped the team capture two AL East pennants, in 1985 and 1989, and gave the city its first experience of postseason baseball.

Whitt was named to the AL All-Star team in 1985, a season in which he slashed .245/.323/.444 with 19 HR, 55 R and 64 RBI.

He bettered that All-Star season in 1987 with what could be considered the best offensive year of his career. In 135 games, he slashed a healthy .269/.334/.455 and contributed 19 HR, 57 R and 75 RBI.

During his 12 seasons with the Jays, Whitt amassed 21.8 WAR and is far and away the franchise leader at the catcher position with 131 HR, 888 H, 424 R, and 518 RBI.

After stints in Atlanta and Baltimore, Whitt retired as a player in 1991. He eventually returned to the organization he had helped propel towards their early 1990s success. In 1997, he took a role as a minor league catching instructor, a position he held until 2004.

In 2005, Whitt made it back to the big leagues as the Jays' bench coach for three seasons. He then spent part of 2008 as the first base coach before being let go by the club in a sweeping coaching change.

Whitt was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 and remains active with Baseball Canada as the national men's team manager.

Next. Three best January free agent signings in Blue Jays history. dark