Jose Bautista turns 41 today.
The last 11 years or so would have been so much different without him. He gave us so many great moments over the years. There were none better than than the home run and bat flip in Game 5.
When we traded for him back in August of 2008, the trade didn’t even merit a post on our site. It turned out to be the best trade of JP Ricciardi’s time as manager, and it didn’t get its own post. He played in 6 games before getting his first hit as a Jay, and people weren’t exactly thrilled with him. He hit his first home run on September 2nd.
In total, he hit 288 home runs as a Blue Jay, number 2 on our franchise list, 48 behind Carlos Delgado. He’s also 2nd on the list for bWAR among batters, at 37.3, just behind Tony Fernandez (37.5). He’s also 7th on the team list in OBP (.372), 5th in slugging (.506), 2nd in runs scored (790, trailing Delgado again by 99), 3rd in RBI (766, behind Vernon Wells and Delgado), and 2nd in walks (803, 24 behind Carlos) and 5th in games played (1235).
Beyond that, he was the face of the Blue Jays for several years. And he gave the team a personality. We quickly became a team that played with a bit of an edge or swagger. A team that other team’s fans didn’t like. As Reggie Jackson said, ‘they don’t boo nobodies.
Jose was intense, which isn’t a strong enough word. He wanted to win very badly. Sometimes his ‘intenseness’ rubbed people the wrong way. I honestly never thought I’d see a player that would match him for intensity, then we got Josh Donaldson, who seems his twin in that way. I remember when Jose quietly stepped in between Josh and umpires when it seemed like Donaldson was about to get himself thrown out of a game and thought Jose could have used someone doing that for him in the past.
I kind of like guys who want to win, though I’ll admit, I did like it when Jose showed us his sense of humour.
Some people complained that Jose wasn’t a leader or a good teammate. Of course, it always came from people who were a long way away from the team. He seemed to do the quiet things that showed how good a teammate he was—standing up for Devon Travis when Sportsnet, doing a feature of having Hazel Mae pick out a suit for him, and then having Travis pay for it himself. Jose, not making a show of it, refused to talk to Sportsnet until they made things right.
And the video of him working with Chris Colabello in the outfield, playing the outfield or working with players on their swing seemed to suggest he was a good teammate.
I can’t imagine what those years would have been like without him. Not near as enjoyable, I’m sure. The sooner they put him on the Level of Excellence, the better.
I enjoyed getting to see him play in the Olympics. It was fun to revisit his stance at the plate.
Anyway, Happy Birthday, Jose. I hope it is a good one.
J.A. Happ turns 39 today.
Happ had two stints with the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, the first wasn’t overly successful. So we sent Francisco Cordero, Ben Francisco, Joe Musgrove, Carlos Perez, David Rollins, Asher Wojciechowski, and Devin Comer to Houston for Happ, David Carpenter, and Brandon Lyon in July of 2012.
Happ was 19-20 with a 4.48 ERA in 58 games, 44 starts over 2.5 seasons in that first run. It was interrupted with injuries (including a terrifying line drive off the head, which resulted in a knee injury that kept him out for a long while).
We traded him to the Mariners for Michael Saunders before the 2015 season. Unfortunately, Happ didn’t do well for the Mariners (4-6 with a 4.64 ERA), and they sent him to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. With the Pirates (and the help of pitching coach Ray Searage), he figured things out. He went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts.
After the season, he signed back with the Blue Jays and had his first and only 20 win season in 2016, 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA finished 6th in Cy Young voting.
He made two starts in our playoff run that year, one win against the Rangers in the ALDS (5 innings, 1 earned), and one loss to Cleveland in the ALCS (5 innings, 2 earned).
2017 wasn’t quite as good. Happ had a 10-11 record and 3.53 ERA in 25 starts, missing some time with injuries.
In 2018 he was 10-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 20 starts when we traded him to the Yankees at the deadline. He went 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA for the Yankees down the stretch, helping them make the playoffs. In 2019 he was 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA in 31 games, 30 stars. This year he was 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in 9 starts.
In 2021 he signed with the Twins, made 19 poor starts and was traded to the Cardinals, where he made 11 much better starts.
In total, as a Blue Jays, he was 59-41 with a 3.88 ERA in 135 games, 127 stars. He’s 9th all-time in franchise wins and one of six Jays pitchers to have a 20 win season.
Happy Birthday, J.A.
Rajai Davis turns 41 today. Davis played three seasons with the Blue Jays in the middle of his 14-year career.
As a Blue Jay, he hit .252/.299/.369 with 125 stolen bases (2011 to 2013), putting him 7th all-time on our stolen base rankings) in 345 games. Baseball-Reference puts him at a 1.6 WAR for his time with us.
I wasn’t a fan. He didn’t control the strike zone and tended to chase off the plate.
Career, he played 1448 games with a .262/.311/.379 batting line and 415 steals playing for eight teams.
Happy Birthday, Rajai.
Randy Ruiz turns 44 today.
Randy was a long-time minor leaguer, but he had a good season for our Triple-A Las Vegas team in 2009 (at age 31), hitting .320/.392/.584, which got our interest (considering we were playing Kevin Millar at the time).
He did get called up in mid-August, hitting .313/.385/.635 in 33 games (Millar hit .223/.311/.363 in 78 games that season).
Unfortunately, that was the high point of his MLB career. He played in 13 games for us in 2010, hitting .150/.150/.275 and was released.
He’s continued to play. He had a season in Japan. And he’s played in Mexico and, the past couple of seasons, in the Puerto Rican Winter Leagues.
Happy Birthday, Randy.