Doyle Lafayette Alexander | SP/RP | 1983-86 | Career Stats | One All-Star Appearance (1988)
Top 10 Toronto Blue Jays Pitching Ranks (min. 500 IP):
ERA: 5th (3.56) | ERA+: 7th (118) | WHIP: 3rd (1.232) | CG: T-6th (25) | SO: T-10th (3)
Alexander is famous, and infamous in Detroit, for being the person the Tigers acquired in exchange for a young John Smoltz. That's not the only future star he was traded for; in 1986, he was traded by the Blue Jays to the Braves in exchange for future star reliever Duane Ward. Well, surely Alexander must've been a good player in his own right, otherwise teams wouldn't have been able to garner such talented young pitchers in exchange for him. And that's precisely why he made this list: during his time with the Blue Jays, he was simply a very productive pitcher.
During his first six seasons in the majors, Alexander never had a clearly defined role, as he inconsistently alternated between starting and relieving. It wasn't due to poor play on his part, however. Rather, the Orioles' four starters (teams almost always had four-man rotations back then) were simply too productive to displace. With the likes of Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, Mike Cuellar, and Pat Dobson on the team, Alexander didn't have much of a chance to crack the team's rotation.
He would be granted the opportunity to start regularly once he left the Orioles, but he didn't make the most of it, however, as he soon became an inning-eating journeyman who played for four different teams during a four-year span. During his second stink with the Yankees, he hit rock bottom, posting atrocious stats across the board. As a result, he was given his walking papers and signed with the Blue Jays as a free agent. At that point, it seemed as though his career was nearing its conclusion, and he'd have to improve drastically in order to stick with his new club. Well, that's exactly what he did. In his first two full seasons with the Blue Jays, he posted ERA+ totals of 132 and 123 while pitching above 260 innings in each season. By that point, the team was a perennial championship contender, and Alexander was a central cog of its pitching staff. In fact, Toronto's pitching was so exceptional that in 1985, the season in which the Blue Jays won a team record 99 games, the pitching staff allowed a league-low 558 runs.
In 1986, Alexander's brief, yet impressive, run with the Blue Jays came to an end. Despite a respectable record, the team was out of contention (remember, there were no wild cards at that point)and decided to part ways with the aging Alexander. Interestingly, Atlanta was much worse record-wise than Toronto that season, but decided to trade away a promising youngster in Duane Ward for an aging, soon-to-be free agent. However, Alexander must've enjoyed his time with the team, since he re-signed with the Braves rather than joining another team. Well, as expected, the Atlanta was out of contention the following season, so they shipped Alexander out of town for John Smoltz. Despite Smoltz's great career with the Braves, that trade worked out for both teams, as Alexander was incredible during his 1987 stint with the the Tigers. He went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA and a WHIP of 1.008, which led to the Tigers' unlikely sejourn in the playoffs (much to the dismay of Blue Jays fans, of course).
Alexander's pitching arsenal included six pitches: a sinker, a slider, a changeup, a fastball, a curveball, and a knuckleball. Actually, as his stuff worsened with age, he began to rely on the knuckleball more and more. However, for the better part of his career, he relied on his sinker, which explains his so-so strikeout totals.