BY CLAYTON RICHER – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
The date was October 23rd, 1993 when Joe Carter launched a Mitch Williams 2-2 offering over the left field wall for a World Series winning three-run home run. The game winning shot heard across the country and sent Canada into frenzy. That was the last time the Toronto Blue Jays reigned the baseball world. Until now…
The ensemble of newly acquired players strategically infused into the team’s core by general manager Alex Anthopoulos has the Blue Jays poised as the favourite to capture the AL East with aspirations of playoff grandeur. On what will be the 20 year anniversary of the last Championship north of the border, I thought it would be intriguing to compare the 1993 team with the 2013 projected lineup and access how our new generation boys of summer stack up against the dynasty team of the 1990s that finished 95-67 in 1993 atop their division.
1993 – Pat Borders caught 138 games behind the dish, posting a .254 BA, .285 OBP with nine home runs and 55 runs batted in. The 1992 World Series MVP posted a -0.3 WAR and led the American League in errors committed by a catcher with 13.
2013 – JP Arencibia entered his sophomore season with the Jays behind the plate posting a .233 BA, .275 OBP with 18 home runs and 56 runs batted in over 102 games. Arencibia missed time with a broken hand and never seemed to regain his form when he returned from the injury. Despite that JP was still valued at a 1.4 WAR.
1993 – John Olerud had a breakout season leading the American league in batting average, OBP, OPS, doubles, times on base and intentional walks. Olerud batted .363 BA, .473 OBP with 24 home runs and 107 run batted in. Olerud had the second highest WAR in the American League at 7.4 only behind Ken Griffey Jr. and was third in MVP voting.
2013 – Edwin Encarnacion, like Olerud, also had a career year destroying his previous offensive statistics. Encarnacion hit .280 BA, .384 OBP slugging 42 home runs and cashing in 110 runs batted in. Encarnacion had a WAR of 4.6 which was seven times higher than the previous season and also posted those numbers while having minimal protection in the batting order due to the vast array of Blue Jays injuries.
I will include both Izturis and Bonifacio at 2B as it appears the hot hand will see the majority of the playing time and the other will be reduced to a bench role.
1993 – Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar is arguably the best second baseman to ever play the game. Alomar was a defensive whiz and was smooth as silk between the lines. In 1993 Alomar finished third in the American League batting race behind teammates Olerud and Molitor. Alomar posted a .326 BA, .408 OBP with 17 homers, 93 runs batted in and 55 stolen bases. Alomar had a WAR of 5.8 and was also awarded one of his 10 career Gold Gloves in 1993. (Little Known Alomar Fact: He actually had his best offensive season in 1999 as a member of the Cleveland Indians, career highs in HR, RBI, Hits, BB, WAR)
2013 – Maicer Izturis is a nine-year veteran who played 100 games with the Angels last season batting .256 BA with a .320 OBP and 2 home runs with 20 runs batted in. Izturis had a career high in stolen bases with 17 and posted a positive WAR of 0.1.
2013 – Emilo Bonifacio had an injury riddled season playing in only 64 games for the Miami Marlins. Bonifacio batted .258 BA with a .330 OBP connecting for one home run and 11 runs batted in limited at-bats. Bonifacio did however have 30 stolen bases and was only caught stealing three times in and still managed a 0.5 WAR in 64 games.
1993 – Tony Fernandez was dealt back to the Blue Jays mid-way through the season from the New York Mets for Darrin Jackson. Fernandez played 94 games hitting an upstart .306 BA with a .361 OBP and four homers and 50 runs batted in. Fernandez solidified the infield, teaming with Alomar for one of the deadliest double play combinations in the history of the game. Fernandez provided the Jays with a 2.8 WAR for the remainder of the season.
2013 – Jose Reyes played his inaugural season with the Marlins batting .287 BA with a .347 OBP on the lacklustre Miami team. Reyes also chipped in 11 home runs, 57 runs batted in and 40 swipes on the base paths. Reyes led the National League in plate appearances with 716 and posted a 2.8 WAR down considerable from the previous season.
1993 – Ed Sprague took over at the hot corner from Kelly Gruber in 1993 and posted a .260 BA with a .310 OBP dialing in for 12 home runs and 73 runs batted in. Sprague however did lead the American League grounding into 23 double plays. Sprague posted a WAR of 1.1 in his first season as an everyday player.
2013 – Brett Lawrie, the great “Canadian Hope”, enjoyed his first full season at the major league level batting a respectable .273 BA with a .324 OBP and 11 home runs sandwiched with 48 runs batted in. Lawrie missed 40 games due to injuries but still managed to achieve a WAR of 4.1. Lawrie appears on the cusp of greatness if he can eliminate the mental lapses and errors in judgement on the base paths.
1993 – Joe Carter is responsible for hitting the most memorable and franchise altering home run in Blue Jays history in 1993. The savvy veteran on the season hit .254 BA supplied with a .312 OBP but smashed 33 home runs and drove in 121 runs. Carter was selected to the All-Star for the third season in a row and surprisingly only provided a WAR of 1.7 in 1993.
2013 – Jose Bautista, the reigning major league home run champion for two years running, suffered a fluke wrist injury during an at-bat and missed over 70 games. Prior to the injury Joey Bats was hitting .241 with a .358 OBP and had already sent 27 balls into orbit. Bautista had 65 runs batted in and a 3.2 WAR when the injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
1993 – Devon White, the man known as “Devo”, is to this day arguably the most graceful and fleet footed defender to ever patrol the Blue Jays outfield. White hit .273 with an OBP of .341 and added 15 home runs and 52 runs batted in. Devo swiped 34 bags in 1993 while only being caught four times. White provided a WAR of 6.0 to the Blue Jays attack.
2013 – Colby Rasmus played his first complete season as a member of the Blue Jays after being exiled out of St. Louis. Rasmus provided glimpses of brilliance while hitting only .223 BA with an OPB of .283. The glimpse came in the power department as the sweet swing of Rasmus tied a career high with 23 home runs and eclipsed his previous runs batted in total with 75. Rasmus will need to cut down on the strikeout totals having whiffed 149 times in 2012 while posting a WAR of 1.4.
1993 – Rickey Henderson was acquired by the Jays at the trade deadline from the Athletics in exchange for highly touted pitching prospect Steve Karsay. Henderson played 44 games for the Jays, hitting .215 BA with a .356 OBP adding four home runs and 12 runs batted in. Henderson did swipe 22 stolen bases in his short tenure with the Jays however only contributed a WAR of 0.4. Henderson would return to Oakland as a free agent in the off season.
2013 – Melky Cabrera, the man known as the “Melkman”, was suspended for 50 games last season for violating the MLB performance enhancing drug policy as a member of the San Francisco Giants. At the time of the suspension Cabrera was leading the National League in batting with a .346 BA in 113 games played. Cabrera also had an OBP of .390 with 11 home runs, 60 runs batted in and a 4.7 WAR when the long arm of the law came calling. Melky will be a man possessed with something to prove this season.
1993 – Paul Molitor finished second in the American League in batting average only behind teammate John Olerud. The “Ignitor” hit .332 BA with a ridiculous OBP of .402 smashing 22 home runs and 111 runs batted in. Molitor was second in MVP voting to White Sox slugger Frank Thomas and provided a WAR of 5.5 for the season.
2013 – Adam Lind played only 93 games and at one point in the season was optioned to triple-A in an attempt to locate his power stroke. Lind posted a .255 BA with a .314 OBP racking up 11 home runs and 45 runs batted in on the season. Lind seemed to find his stroke in the last six weeks but is still a long way from his Silver Slugger year of 2009. Lind provided a WAR of 0.0 for the Jays last season and will need to produce to remain in the lineup.
1993 Pitching Staff:
Pat Hentgen (Blue Jays new Bullpen Coach for 2013) – 19-9, 3.87 ERA, 1.336 WHIP, 122 SO, 3.1 WAR
Juan Guzman – 14-3, 3.99 ERA, 1.452 WHIP, 194 SO, 3.1 WAR
Dave Stewart – 12-8, 4.44 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 96 SO, 1.3 WAR
Todd Stottlemyre – 11-12, 4.84 ERA, 1.545 WHIP, 98 SO, 0.5 WAR
Jack Morris – 7-12, 6.19 ERA, 1.664 WHIP, 103 SO, -1.7 WAR
Closer: Duane Ward – 2-3, 2.13 ERA, 1.033 WHIP, 45 SV, 97 SO, 2.9 WAR
2013 Pitching Staff:
R.A. Dickey – 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 230 SO, 5.6 WAR
Josh Johnson – 8-14, 3.81 ERA, 1.280 WHIP, 165 SO, 3.1 WAR
Brandon Morrow – 10-7, 2.96 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, 108 SO, 3.2 WAR
Mark Buehrle – 13-13, 3.74 ERA, 1.171 WHIP, 125 SO, 3.2 WAR
Ricky Romero – 9-14, 5.77 ERA, 1.674 WHIP, 124 SO, -1.7 WAR
Closer: Casey Janssen – 1-1, 2.54 ERA, 0.864 WHIP, 22 SV, 67 SO, 1.8 WAR
So there you have it your 2013 Toronto Blue Jays position by position stacked up with the 1993 World Champions. Definitely the most talented well rounded group of players assembled since 1993 on paper. Now let’s get out there and prove it over 162 games
More MLB: Projected 2013 Blue Jays lineup (now with Dickey!)