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FanPost Friday: Who is the most underrated player in Jays history?

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

We haven’t done a FanPost Friday in a long time. I’m going to try to revive the idea. I love the FanPost area, but it doesn’t get used enough.

The idea is, I pose a topic and you go over here and write about it. Pretty simple. We will move some of our favorite responses to the main page.

Today’s topic: Who is the most underrated player in Jays history?

This is your chance to talk about someone you don’t think gets remembered enough.

My pick changes daily but today I’d put Rance Mulliniks at the top of the list.

Rance was drafted by the Angels, in the third round of the 1974 draft. He played parts of the 1977, 78 and 79 seasons for the Angels, mostly at short, and hit .229/.284/.310. He was traded to the Royals and again didn’t play much (the Royals had George Brett at third and U.L. Washington at short). In two seasons he hit .245/.306/.306 in 60 games (which wasn’t going to move Brett off third).

From the 1982 season he was traded to the Blue Jays. Bobby Cox was manager and Bobby looked at his team and found that, at a few positions, he didn’t have anyone he liked to be a full time regular, but he had guys that might share a spot (back in the days before 8 or 9 man bullpens, teams platooned more).

Rance became the left-handed hitting part of a platoon with Garth Iorg. He ended up playing 11 seasons with the Jays (though that 11th season shouldn’t count, he only played in 3 games). Over the 11 seasons he hit .280/.365/.424 and played very good defense at third base. Baseball Reference has him at a 15.8 WAR as a Jay.

Batting primarily against RHP, Rance became a much better hitter than he was with the Royals and Angels. Part of it may have been the teachings of batting coach Cito Gaston.

His best season was 1985, where he hit .295/.383/.454 with 10 home runs in 427 at bats, but he had several seasons that were around those numbers.

Rance didn’t look like an athlete. I’ve said, several times, that he looked like an accountant. Listed (generously) at 5’11” and 162 pounds on his Baseball Reference page, he was skinny. No one ever accused him of using PEDs. But he got everything he could out of his athletic ability. He wasn’t fast. He wasn’t (or didn’t appear to be) strong. He didn’t have a great arm. But, both on offense and defense, he got the most you could ever expect out of his abilities. I’ve always liked guys like that.

Rance was smart (well, baseball smart, I don’t know enough about him to say he was smart in real world ways). At bat, he understood the strike zone. He knew how to turn on a pitch when he wanted too, but he used the whole field. On defense, he wasn’t flashy, but he made the plays. He wasn’t fast (15 total stolen bases), but he was smart on the bases.

Rance was the color guy on Jays broadcasts for a few seasons and I wasn’t a fan. He seemed to have a set few things he would say and you heard them a lot. I did talk to him once (he went to a ‘Jays Camp’ that my youngest son went too, my son really liked him), and I asked him who was his favorite current Jay. He said ‘Jose Bautista’, paraphrasing ‘not because of the home runs, but because he was such a student of the game. Because he worked so hard to become the player he was. That he was a smart player.’ Which is how I think of Rance as a player.

By fWAR he is the second best 3B in team history (behind Josh Donaldson). By bWAR Rance is third (behind Josh Donaldson and just behind Kelly Gruber. Kelly played more games at third, Rance had more game played for the Jays, but played a fair bit of DH in his last few years with the team.).

Anyway go write a Fanpost about the Jays player you think is the most underrated.

I’m going to close comments for this thread, to, hopefully, force the use of FanPosts.