Patrick Lance Borders | C | 1988-1994, 1999
1992 World Series MVP
Runs Created as a Jay: 244
Drafted in the 6th round of the 1982 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, Pat spent his first two seasons in pro ball as a third baseman. But he led the league in errors each year so he was moved to first in 1984. He started catching in 1986, which was for the best; he would have never made the majors as a corner infielder with his bat.
Pat Borders was never a great player or a great hitter. He only had one season as a Jay where he hit better than average. In 1990 he had an OPS+ of 120 and a batting average of .286 with 15 home runs and his only on base above .300 (.319) in his time as a Jay. His Jay career offensive win percentage is .458. He did have decent power, if he could have learned to take a walk it would have helped. But he was a tough catcher and a good handler of pitchers. He had a decent arm but was never really a candidate for a Gold Glove.
He came up in 1988 to take Buck Martinez' role as the right handed half of a catching platoon with Ernie Whitt. After the 1989 season Whitt was traded to the Braves and Borders became the full time catcher for 5 seasons till he left the Jays as free agent to sign with the Kansas City Royals. After that he bounced from team to team as a backup catcher or an insurance policy in Triple A.
The Jays were one of the top teams in baseball during Pat’s time with the team, won the division title in ’89 and ’91 but lost in the ALCS both years. In 1992, when the Jays won their first of two World Series, Pat was an offensive force in the ALCS against the A’s hitting .318/.320/.455 in the 6 games. In the World Series he was terrific batting .450/.500/.750 with 3 doubles and a home run. He deservedly won the World Series MVP as well as a place in the hearts of Jay’s fans forever.
He contributed the next season to winning the World Series batting .304/.360/.304 in 6 games against the Phillies. After winning the second World Series things went downhill both for the team and for Pat. Borders left as a free agent after the 1994 season and played for 10 teams over the next 10 years including another chance with the Jays in 1999 when he played 6 games down the stretch.
Bill James called Pat the ‘best looking’ Jay in his 1992 Baseball Book. I’m sure I would have no idea so I won’t argue. He appears on the Jay’s batting leader board in several areas: 20th in games played, 24th in at bats, 39th in runs scored, 24th in hits, 25 in total bases, 23 in doubles, 29 in homers, 24th in RBI, 33rd in runs created, 16 in sac bunts and up at 12 in ground into double plays. Don’t worry, Lyle will push him back a spot in a year or so.
Pat is also only one of three Americans who have won a World Series and an Olympic Gold Medal. The other two? Doug Mientkiewicz and Ed Sprague. And my oldest son likes him because he was good in the computer baseball game he used to play, Baseball Mogul. He was telling me how Borders hit for a good average, with power and some walks….I had to break it to him that it maybe wasn’t the most accurate portrait of the man.
He stayed in the game playing in the minors when he couldn’t get a major league job until just last May. You have to admire someone that loves the game that much. I’m sure he could stay in the game as a coach or manager. He never was an All-Star and really, at best, was an average catcher but earns the 50th spot on our 50 Greatest Jays list.