In 2017, the Blue Jays used a franchise record 60 different players, easily eclipsing the previous high of 55 back in 2014 (hopefully this is one team record they don’t come close to breaking in 2018). To put that in some historical perspective, the 33 pitchers alone matched the total number of players used in the 1983 and 1984 seasons, incidentally the franchise seasonal lows. Below is a chart breaking down the number of pitchers and hitters used by the Jays by season over their history:
Basically, there are three periods of time:
- From 1977-93, more position players were used than pitchers, often significantly so. In 1986, the Jays used 18 of each, which was the only time there was so much as parity whereas in 1984 position players reached 63% of the total (almost a 2:1 ratio).
- Starting in the strike year and extending through the end of the aughts, there was roughly parity between pitchers and position players. 1999 is the glaring exception, when 31 different hitters were used, which is still the franchise record.
- In the last decade, the number of pitchers has outpaced the number of position players, sometimes dramatically (in 2013, 31/22, the exact mirror of 1999)
What’s remarkable are the divergent trends between pitcher and hitter totals. As the disaggregated charts below perhaps show more clearly, the numbers of hitters is very stable over time, with only the very slightest upwards trend (+0.05/year, r^0.04). The pitchers totals have basically continuously risen over time (+0.39/year, r^2 = 0.77).
A few other notes:
- The totals do not include position players pitching or vice versa (though I don’t recall any incidences of that)
- The Blue Jays first used 40 different players in 1985; the last time they were under 40 was in 2005 (37). 1999 was the first time over 50, which was not again reached until 2011. 2016 (49) is the only season under 50 since then.
In 2018, the Blue Jays will use:
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Under 50 players