Thank you all for your patience as you bear with me over being slow to get the polls out. I’m home now though, and hopefully can do some writing with a bit more regularity.
Today’s poll is for your favourite centre fielder, and unlike left field, we actually have some competition here. So without further adieu, here is the field:
Lloyd Moseby (1980-1989)
Shaker was the Blue Jays’ first round selection in the 1978 draft, number 2 overall, and the Jays did not miss with that pick. Moseby made his Major League debut at 20 years of age, and quickly took over full time duties in the outfield.
He hit .257/.333/.415 over his 10 seasons with Toronto, a little bit better than league average. He provided good defense and baserunning as well, accumulating 24.6 fWAR and 26 bWAR overall. He holds the franchise lead in stolen bases at 255, although he also owns the lead in caught stealing at 86 (in a 3-way tie with Tony Fernandez and Damaso Garcia). He’s second in triples with 60, and sits in the top 10 overall in doubles (4th at 242), runs (4th at 768), RBI (7th at 651), home runs (8th at 149).
Moseby was also the author of one of the weirdest plays in Blue Jays’ history.
Devon White (1991-1995)
White came over from the Angels prior to the 1991 season, taking over the reins of the centre field position from Mookie Wilson, who held down the fort for a season after Moseby’s departure. Devo became an instant upgrade, putting up 3 consecutive fantastic seasons (6+ bWAR, 5+ fWAR) with some of the best defensive baseball a centre fielder can provide.
White hit .270/.327/.432 at the top of the Jays’ lineup over the glory years, positioning himself well for some playoff glory. He scored 20 runs in the 29 playoff games from 1991-1993, including being on base for Roberto Alomar’s huge home run off Dennis Eckersley.
Jose Cruz Jr. (1997-2002)
The Blue Jays traded Paul Spoljaric and Mike Timlin to the Mariners in exchange for Cruz at the trade deadline in 1997. With the Jays not needing their bullpen duo, and the Mariners already having some other Jr. entrenched in centre field, it was a good fit. Cruz was in the midst of a very impressive rookie campaign, one that would see him wind up second in voting for the Rookie of the Year award behind the unanimous victor Nomar Garciaparra.
If you have ever played Triple Play ‘99 (with arguably the greatest intro for a sports game ever), you know of Buck Martinez’s love for the trade. Buck was the colour commentator for the game, and every time Cruz would come up to the plate, Buck would sing the praises for the steal that the Jays got in that deal.
It didn’t quite turn into the steal that it seemed for the Blue Jays. Cruz had a fine 5.5 years with the Blue Jays, turning in 11.5 WAR while providing about league average offense with a good power/speed mix and solid enough defense. But like a lot of things from that era of Blue Jays’ history, he didn’t live up to the hopes of the fanbase.
He held the Blue Jays’ record for home runs in consecutive games, having hit one in 6 straight games at the end of the 2001 season. (This record, as pointed out by tristelune, was since broken by Kendrys Morales in 2018)
Vernon Wells (1999-2010)
The Blue Jays’ made Wells the 5th overall pick in the 1997 draft, and he quickly rose through the ranks, making his debut in 1999 before establishing himself as a regular in 2002. Once established, he quickly positioned himself in the heart of a potent lineup, pairing nicely with Carlos Delgado for the first couple seasons of his career.
Wells holds the single season record for hits as a Blue Jay with 215, collecting that many in his standout 2003 season. He hit an impressive 49 doubles that season, to go along with 33 home runs, 118 runs, 117 RBI and a .317 batting average. All of those numbers proved to be a career high for him, but Wells’ name shows up near the top in pretty much all of the career leaderboards for the Blue Jays. He also holds the team record for the largest contract, signing a 7 year, $126m extension prior to the 2008 season, an extension that drew him a lot of unwarranted ire, but also helped Alex Anthopoulos gain a lot of praise when he was able to offload the contract to the Angels following the 2010 season.
Wells won three Gold Gloves with the Blue Jays, picked up a Silver Slugger award for that 2003 season, and found his way to three All Star Games. A memory that I have from one of Wells’ all star games was that his father, Vernon Wells Jr., painted a portrait of his son and the other Jays’ all star representatives. However, I have never been able to find a picture of this painting, so I would love it if one of you guys could find it.
Colby Rasmus (2011-2014)
Rasmus came over to the Jays via a pair fairly complex trades near the deadline in 2011. His arrival gave the Jays hope for a long term piece in CF, having just come off a 4.0 WAR season in his sophomore campaign. He never consistently reached those heights with the Jays, but did have a pretty great year for the Jays in 2013.
Rasmus was occasionally a frustrating player in an Blue Jays’ era overloaded with frustrations, and probably never got the love that he deserved from fans. His lefty power bat for the CF position is a good complement to a lot of offenses, and his defense, while sometimes shaky, was also occasionally pretty great, including a combined 19 DRS in 2012 and 2013. He was a great complement piece but held the expectations of a centrepiece.
When he got a hold of a baseball, it went a long, long way. Here is a list of the top 5 home runs by distance for the Jays in 2013, and with special appearances by JP Arencibia and Jose Bautista, it is Colby Ramus’ concert.
Kevin Pillar (2013-2019)
While Rasmus was the complementary piece to a core that wasn’t there, Kevin Pillar was the core piece that was very much a complementary piece to the Jays’ mid-teens playoff seasons. Pillar put up 8.8 bWAR in 2015-2016, playing remarkable defense in CF and helping the team to the playoffs.
Pillar was a 32nd round draft pick of the Jays in 2011, and they definitely hit gold with such a late third day selection. He worked his way through the system though, and surprised everyone when he became a key cog in the Jays’ playoff machine. He had many memorable catches throughout his time here, a journey that ended quite early in the 2019 season. He was traded on April 2 last year, one of the earliest in season trades ever.
While words about Superman’s defense are nice, there’s really only one way to make the case for Pillar:
So, who do you have for your favourite Blue Jays’ centre fielder. There really is no bad option here.
Who was your favourite Blue Jays’ centre fielder?
This poll is closed
Jose Cruz Jr.