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Top 55 All-Time Greatest Blue Jays: #45 Roy Howell

Roy Howell
Roy Howell

Roy Lee Howell | 3B | 1977-1980

Notable accomplishment: All-Star 1978.

Roy Howell, born December 18, 1953 in Lompoc, California, was drafted in the first round of the 1972 amateur draft by the Texas Rangers with the 4th pick. That was the first season for the Texas Rangers, they had just moved from Washington and Howell was their first ever pick. There weren't that many big names picked in the first round that year. Chet Lemon was the 22nd pick in the first round but there wasn't anyone else chosen in the first round that was much better than Howell (maybe Scott McGregor). The number one pick overall was Dave Roberts. There were two Hall of Famers picked in the 3rd round that year, Dennis Eckersley and Gary Carter.

Roy made it to the majors in 1974 at the age of 20 for 13 games, and then in '75 and '76 he was the regular third sacker for the Rangers. He was pretty unspectacular hitting .251 and .253 with 10 and 8 homeruns those seasons. On May 9th of 1977 he was traded to the Jays for Steve Hargan, a has-been starting pitcher, Jim Mason, a SS who in his good seasons flirted with the Mendoza line and $200,000.

In 1977 Roy had a good season with the Jays batting .316/.386/.451 for an Ops+ of 127. The Jays were, well, pretty awful in their first season of existence and they weren't much better the next year when Howell hit .271/.325/.376, hitting 8 homeruns, scoring 67 runs and driving home 61. He was the Jay's representative at the All-Star game that year, because someone had to be and he appeared in the game as a pinch hitter.

In 1979 Roy played in 140 games, batted .247/.310/.405 with 15 homeruns and 72 RBI not terrible but not want you would want out of your third baseman. 1980 was Toronto's first season with less than 100 losses (95), Howell hit .269/.335/.413 for a OPS+ of exactly 100. With 10 homeruns and 57 RBI he was pretty much average with the bat. Fangraphs has 1980 as his best season as a Jay, with a 2.5 WAR.

With the glove? He had average range but he made his share of errors. In his 4 seasons with the Jays he made 60 errors in 489 games at 3B for a fielding percentage of about .955.

After the 1980 season he signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Brewers where he played for 4 seasons as a platoon 3B/DH. The Brewers made it to the World Series once in the Harvey Wallbanger period but lost out to the Cardinals. Roy went 0 for 11 in 4 games. Roy signed with the San Francisco Giants before the 1985 season but was released during spring training.

When Roy left the Blue Jays he held the team records for career hits, RBI and strikeouts, but then it was a very young franchise at the time. Roy also has the team record for RBI in a game driving in 9 against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium September 10, 1977. He hit .272/.335/.407 with 43 home runs and 234 RBI in 516 games with the Jays. It's funny my memory says that he was a better player than his numbers suggest. I guess that since we didn't have many decent players, back in the early days of the team, that anyone resembled a major league player looked pretty good by comparison.

After retirement Howell played for a season in the Senior Professional Baseball Association. And has coached and managed in the San Diego Padres minor league system. In 2011 he was manager for an independent league team. He lives in Shell Beach, CA with his family.

Roy Howell's ranking among Jay hitters:
39th Games Played
32nd At Bats
36th Runs Scored
32nd Hits
33rd Total Bases
31st Doubles
20th Triples
41st in Home Runs
35th in RBI
30th Walks
33rd in Runs Created
31st in Extra Base Hits
18th in Intention Walks