Top 15 Players You Forgot Recently Played For The Toronto Blue Jays

Top 15 Players You Forgot Recently Played For The Toronto Blue Jays

Opening day is upon us, baseball is back, and the Toronto Blue Jays are again headed for a season without a World Series berth. Now, we at The Sportster happen to enjoy watching the Toronto Blue Jays play, especially when they come into contact with the Texas Rangers, but their outlook for the 2017 season is clouded with questions. Can Jose Bautista return to All-Star form, or is he too old? Are we seeing a full regression from Troy Tulowitzki? Who is going to step up in that rotation?

While the Blue Jays have been one of the game’s better teams in the past two seasons, the start to this decade saw Canada’s lone baseball team trying to mix and match with veterans who were either past their prime, not good fits, or a combination of the two. There’s also been what can only be described as horrendous decision making in the front office; does anyone remember the megatrade with the Miami Marlins? How about sending Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud to the New York Mets for an aging R.A. Dickey and catcher Josh Thole?

From former All-Stars to prospects who became elite players with other teams, the Toronto Blue Jays have had plenty of players over the past few seasons who, when their names are mentioned in the same name as the team, will cause fans to say, “wait, they were on the Blue Jays?” Today, let’s look at some of those former Blue Jays players who, for one reason or another, likely aren’t remembered by even the most diehard fans…

15. JOSH JOHNSON

Here’s a perfect example of what happens when a pitcher who already has battled injuries for so much of his career gets sent to a team attempting to buy a World Series win. Pitching 16 games for the Blue Jays in 2013, Johnson at least regained his strikeout pitch, striking out more than a hitter per inning (83 in 81.1 innings) for the first time since 200 (186 in 183.2 innings), but that was really the only positive.

Going 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA, Johnson gave up a career-high 15 home runs and posted a career worst -1.5 WAR. As recently as January, Johnson was prepping for a comeback with the San Francisco Giants after his third Tommy John surgery, but the two-time All-Star decided to cut his losses and call it quits.

14. YUNEL ESCOBAR

One of the many notable shortstops the Blue Jays have tried using in their decades-long revolving door Escobar slashed .272/.335/.373 in his two and a half seasons with 24 home runs, 115 RBI, 53 doubles, and four triples; Escobar also posted an 8.6 total WAR – including a career-high 4.7 in 2011 – and a 4.2 Defensive WAR. Escobar was also involved in a notable controversy in September 2012 after putting a homophobic Spanish slur in his eye black.

Interestingly, Escobar really didn’t have a reasoning, telling the media, “It’s not something I intended to be offensive. I didn’t mean to say anything with it. It was not for anyone and it was not meant to offend. … it’s just a word.” The kicker is that like a white teenager who defends using a racial slur by saying he has black friends, Escobar sad he has gay friends – his home decorator and his barber.

13. KYLE DRABEK

The son of Doug, this Drabek was a first-round pick of the Phillies in the 2006 MLB Draft (taken above Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain among pitchers in the first round) and the main trade chip in the deal that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia after the 2009 season. Making his big league debut in 2010, Drabek started 30 games over five seasons from the Blue Jays from 2010-14, pitching to an 8-15 record with a 5.27 ERA.

The control that made Drabek stand out as a future ace in the minor leagues was nowhere to be seen, as the former first-rounder walked 111 career hitters in 172.11 innings with the Blue Jays. Toronto lucked out with some important trades at the end of the 2000’s, including the Scott Rolen-Edwin Encarnacion swap in 2009, but this one was (predictably) a bust.

12. KELLY JOHNSON

When that day comes where Kelly Johnson is laid out and buried, his tombstone will read, “here lies Kelly Andrew Johnson: he played for every American League East team.” Johnson’s first tenure in the American League East came with the Toronto Blue Jays, whom he spent the second half of the 2011 season and all of 2012 with, slashing .233/.323/.375 with 19 home runs, 64 RBI, 17 stolen bases, and a 190-78 K-BB ratio in 713 plate appearances.

Interestingly, the versatility that makes Johnson so important now wasn’t always on display when the veteran was in Toronto, as Johnson primarily played second base and designated hitter for John Farrell’s squad. During the 2012 season, Johnson’s 1.8 WAR was eighth on the 73-89 Blue Jays, but wasn’t enough for the team to consider bringing him back.

11. FRANK FRANCISCO

It feels like Frank Francisco has been everywhere, but he only pitched for four teams – three of which came between 2011-14 after leaving the Texas Rangers. Francisco’s 2011 season with the Blue Jays was one of the best in his career, as the veteran pitched to a 3.55 ERA with a 53-18 K-BB ratio in 54 games for first-year manager John Farrell. Serving as Toronto’s closer after dealing with an early groin issue, Francisco saved 17 games and had a 1.37 ERA after the All-Star Break; in that time span, batters slashed .188/.220/.323 against the Dominican-born reliever.

Oh, and there were no incidents involving chairs being thrown at fans or negative slurs being thrown around, so Blue Jays management had to be thrilled with that. Hooray for progress!

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