A Look at the Past: the 1992-1993 Toronto Blue Jays

For Blue Jays fans, the success of the early `90s resonates deeply with them. It was a time when the team was perennially successful, ticket and merchandise sales were high, and Toronto was regarded as, dare I say it, a baseball town. Now, with the team hoping to leap back into contention in the upcoming seasons, it is a good time to reflect on those two World Championship teams and attempt to make some sense out of how their success was achieved.

1992 Blue Jays:

Record: 96-66 (1st in the Eastern Division; t-1st in the American League)
Pythagorean Record: 91-71
A Pythagorean Record is the expected won-lost record for a team based on its run differential.

Runs Scored: 780; Runs Allowed: 682

Starting Lineup:

Starting Rotation:

OPS+ is indexed to 100. So, if a player's OPS+ is 126, he was 26% better than the league average that year.

First of all, they significantly outperformed their Pythagorean record. One reason is their success in one-run games; the Blue Jays were 28-20 in games that were decided by one run. In fact, if the Milwaukee Brewers had not significantly underperformed their Pythagorean record (Pythag. Record: 96-66; Record: 92-70), the 1992 Blue Jays would have been a second-place team whose legacy would be no greater than the other good-but-not-great Jays teams from that era.

How were they built?

Like most successful teams, many of the Blue Jays' key players were products of the team's farm system. For example, John Olerud, Jimmy Key, and Juan Guzman were drafted by the Blue Jays; while Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter were acquired for talent that developed within the system (they were acquired in exchange for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez, to be exact). In addition, the Blue Jays possessed the game's highest payroll (hard to believe that now, huh?), which helped acquire free agents such as Dave Winfield, Devon White, Candy Maldonado, and Jack Morris. The high payroll allowed them to acquire premium talent while being forced to absorb the ill-conceived contracts handed out to Kelly Gruber ($ 3,633,333), Dave Stieb ($ 3,250,000), and Ken Daley ($ 1,983,333).

What made them successful?

The 1992 Blue Jays derived a great deal of their success from their offense. They ranked second in the American League in runs scored (11 runs behind the Tigers). Although the Skydome played as a slight hitter's park, they scored the same amount of runs (390) on the road as they did at home. Had Cito Gaston not penciled Kelly Gruber (along with his paltry OPS+ of 72) into the lineup for 120 games, the offense would have performed even better. The Blue Jays' pitching that season must not be discounted either. Juan Guzman, Jimmy Key, David Cone, Tom Henke, and Duane Ward were exceptional, while Jack Morris and his lucky rabbit's foot managed to produce 21 wins out of a league-average performance (102 ERA+).

Any Hall of Famers?

Dave Winfield was inducted in 2001, and Roberto Alomar will almost certainly be inducted once he is eligible. David Cone and Jack Morris enjoyed long, prosperous careers, but they fall into the hall of the very good and will likely never be inducted.

1993 Blue Jays:

Record: 95-67 (1st in the Eastern Divison; 1st in the American League)
Pythagorean Record: 91-71
Runs Scored: 847; Runs Allowed: 742

Starting Lineup:

Starting Rotation:

Once again, the Blue Jays outperformed their Pythagorean record by a significant margin. However, unlike 1992, their record in one-run games was not all that impressive; the Blue Jays were 23-22 in games that were decided by one run. They were 19-8 in two-run games, but the 1992 Blue Jays were also 19-8 in two-run games, so other factors were certainly in play.

How were they built?

Rather than sitting on his hands and keeping the 1992 World Championship team intact, GM Pat Gillick made significant changes to the roster. After Dave Winfield's departure, he signed Paul Molitor as a free agent. In addition, Kelly Gruber, Manny Lee, and Candy Maldonado did not return. Gruber and Lee were replaced by Ed Sprague and Tony Fernandez, respectively. They each proved to be significant improvements over their predecessors. On the other hand, Maldonado's bat was missed in the lineup; his replacements, Turner Ward, Darnell Coles, Darrin Jackson, and Rickey Henderson, struggled in his stead. On the pitching side, Jimmy Key, David Cone, and Tom Henke signed elsewhere as free agents. That meant that Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen, Duane Ward, and the newly-acquired Dave Stewart were responsible for handling the brunt of the pitching duties in their absence.

What made them successful?

The production of WAMCO (White, Alomar, Molitor, Carter, and Olerud) at the top of the lineup was absolutely terrific that season. As a result, they were all selected to play for the all-star team by manager Cito Gaston (in fact, Gaston named seven Blue Jays to the all-star team that year). On the other hand, the Blue Jays' pitching regressed from the previous season. Juan Guzman did not repeat his stellar 1992 campaign, but he still did enjoy a productive season. His control was a concern all year, as he led the league in wild pitches with 26 (that was nine more than the next highest player on the list, Tom Gordon of the Kansas City Royals). On the whole, the team's success was reliant on its great hitting, which helped overcome the fact that they finished 5th in the American League in runs allowed.

Any Hall of Famers?

Paul Molitor was inducted into the hall of fame in 2004; Roberto Alomar and Rickey Henderson will almost certainly be inducted once they are eligible.

What went wrong after 1993?

Unlike after the 1992 campaign, the Blue Jays made few changes to their roster during the 1993 off-season. WAMCO regressed, which was to be expected after all the success they had in 1993. Once the season began, valuable at-bats were being wasted on the likes of Pat Borders (58 OPS +) and Dick Schofield (75 OPS+). In future years, farm products such as Carlos Delgado, Shawn Green, and Pat Hentgen proved to be successful at the big-league level, but they alone could not compensate for the lackluster performances by declining veterans such as Lance Parrish and Danny Darwin. As a result, the Blue Jays' fan support decreased. Here are the Blue Jays' American League attendance rankings from the years 1992-2005 (out of 14 teams): 1st, 1st, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 8th, 10th, 10th, 11th, 11th, 11th, 11th. Suddenly, Toronto does not quite seem like a baseball town anymore.

Thanks to baseball-reference.com for providing me with oodles of useful statistics.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bluebird Banter

You must be a member of Bluebird Banter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bluebird Banter. You should read them.

Join Bluebird Banter

You must be a member of Bluebird Banter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bluebird Banter. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker