Toronto Blue Jays Level of Excellence: What is it and who is in the elusive club?

David Corcoran
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages
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Carlos Delgado (July 21, 2013)

Carlos Delgado spent 16 seasons in the Blue Jays organization after signing with the franchise as a 16-year old at the end of the 1988 season. The Puerto Rican-born hitter dominated the minor leagues as his final four seasons saw him have a batting average of .316 with 96 home runs and 334 RBI in just 449 games before he became an everyday player in 1996.

Between the time of 1996 until 2004, Delgado averaged 36 home runs and 114 RBI with a slash line of .286/.397/.565 over a 162 game schedule. He played at least 161 games on three occasions, while collecting at least 91 RBI in every season, including leading the league in RBI and OPS in 2003 when he finished second in AL MVP voting. Delgado would win three Silver Slugger awards which is extremely impressive considering he was battling the likes of Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire, Tino Martinez and Jason Giambi during his prime.

Delgado currently leads the franchise in several hitting categories including home runs (336), doubles (343), RBI (1,058) and OPS (.949). He hit 48 more home runs more than second place José Bautista, while Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is currently the closest active Blue Jay to catching Delgado but trails him by 232. Delgado is a player that should have received a lot more consideration for the Hall of Fame as he finished with a career OPS of .929, with 473 home runs and 1,512 RBI.

Roy Halladay (March 29, 2018)

There is Dave Stieb and Roy Halladay and then there is the rest of the pitchers in franchise history. Halladay was a first-round pick with a lot of hype climbing through the ranks and made his debut as a 21-year old in 1998. In his second career game, hw held a no-hitter until two outs in the ninth inning, unfortunately he surrendered a solo home run to Bobby Higginson, which was ironically caught in the Blue Jays bullpen by Stieb.

Halladay would have his struggles a couple years later, which would cause him to drop all the way down to High-A Dunedin where he had to reinvent his pitching mechanics in 2001. He would overcome the adversity and become an All-Star in 2002 and then a Cy Young Award winner in 2003. During his 12 year career with the Blue Jays, Halladay would be a finalist on two other occasions for the top pitching award. He was arguably the most durable pitcher for almost a decade as he tossed at least 220 innings four times over an eight year stint, led the league in complete games five times and innings pitched three times. Halladay is currently second in franchise wins to Stieb.

We are now going on five years since anyone has joined the Level of Excellence and it is time to see a couple other names of the next generation to be acknowledged. I think it is time to see both José Bautista and Edwin Encarnación get acknowledged.

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