The Blue Jays have had some terrific seasons from first basemen. We are using fWAR, from FanGraphs, for this little exercise.
- John Olerud owns the number one spot. It was an amazing season. He was hitting .400 on August 2nd. He also holds spots 15, 16, 18, 19 and 22. In his rookie season he was mostly DHing. That 1993 season is an outlier, he never had one close to as good the rest of his career.
- Carlos Delgado gets 5 of the top ten spots. He also has the 12th, 20th, and 26th spot. He DHed in 1996 or he’d have the 28th spot as well. I hate that he was a ‘one and done’ on the Hall of Fame ballot. But, he’s the best bat we’ve ever had.
- 3 of the top ten spots go to Fred McGriff. He’s another who we had DHing in his first season. 7 home runs short of 500 (Delgado was 27 short), it does drive me nuts that if he had those 7 more homers, he’d be doing much better than getting around 20% of the vote on the Hall of Fame ballots.
- Willie Upshaw had the one really good season. He has the 17th, 20th, 25th, 32nd and 34th spot on our list. He, likely, came up a little too quickly, maybe he could have used a little more time in the minors, but we weren’t a very good team back then, there was no one blocking his way. He was one of several who was with the team when we were a bottom dweller, and was there when we won a pennant. He was a very likable player.
- Edwin Encarnacion had two seasons where he played mostly first for us. He has the one where he’s tied for tenth and he’s also got the 13th spot on the list.
The bottom ten:
- Kevin Millar was one of those players we picked up for his veteran presents. It didn’t work out. He was terrible on the field and, apparently, pretty lousy in the clubhouse too. I think signing a guy for his ‘leadership qualities’ is stupid. I think if the team wins, you don’t need a leader. He also bad defensively at first base.
- Justin Smoak also has the 14th spot, from his terrific season last year. I’m not sure what I’d put for his over/under for WAR this coming season. I could see him having a great season or a terrible season or anywhere in between. I didn’t put Chris Colabello in with the first basemen, he appeared more in the outfield in 2015.
- Adam Lind played first for four seasons for us. He also has the 33rd spot and the 30th spot on our list. He loses points for bad defense. I’m not sure how fair that is. I didn’t think he was that terrible at the position.
- John Mayberry also lost points for his defense. He was really a DH, but the early Jays had many players who were really DHes, someone had the play the field. I liked Mayberry, he also seemed happy, he seemed like he liked being in Toronto. He was traded to the Jay, in what seemed like a steal of a deal for us, because Whitey Herzog knew he liked to party (which was code for ‘he used cocaine’) and Whitey didn’t want the younger Royals players to learn his partying ways. Herzog was right to be worried, we’d later find out that many Royals players ‘liked to party’. Mayberry also holds the 24th, 28th and 31st spots on our list.
- BP has a good story about Doug Ault.
- Lyle Overbay has the 23rd, 27th and 29th spots on the list. Lyle gets bad marks for his defense, even though he was thought to be a good/very good first baseman. I don’t trust advanced defensive stats for first basemen. I think there are a few things that 1Bs do that don’t yet show in the stats.
- The Jays let Carlos Delgado leave as a free agent, and gave Eric Hinski the first base job as a money saving move. It worked out about as well as you’d think it would.
- Shea Hillenbrand was also to help replace Delgado. On the list of reasons to fire J.P. Riccardi, signing Hillenbrand was near the top. He was a jerk. and not a very good baseball player. If you are a jerk....you better be really good at your job. He wasn’t. He might have been right about the ship sinking, but he really didn’t help. He wasn’t exactly bailing out water. He was more cutting holes in the ship.
- All the spots between 11 and 35 are players who appear in the top or bottom ten.