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Happy Birthday Jesse Barfield and R.A. Dickey

Jesse Barfield

Jesse Barfield turns 62 today.

Jesse Barfield was one of my favourite players. He was very easy to like, he always seemed happy. He could do it all on the field. He and Devon White are 1, 2 on the list of best defensive outfielders in team history. And I’m ok with either as number 1. Barfield has a 9.5 defensive WAR (second to Tony Fernandez’ 12.4) on Baseball Reference as a Jay. White is 9.1.

He was a 9th round pick in the 1977 amateur draft, the first year the Blue Jays (and Mariners) were part of the draft. MLB gave them the last two choices of each round (the big-hearted folks they are).

Jesse made it up to the majors in 1981 and spent nine years with the Jays. He’s near the top of the franchise leader boards in several categories:

  • 4rd in WAR among position players, 29.4
  • 10th in slugging average, .483
  • 11th in games played, 1032
  • 7th in home runs, 179
  • 9th in RBI, 527

As well as having a great bat, he was a terrific defensive player with a strong and accurate arm in right field. There are many great little stories about Jesse’s arm that he could stand at the plate and throw the ball over the center-field wall. I remember seeing him catching a line drive on a bounce, throw to first, and get the batter out at first more than once. Barfield led the AL in assists three years in a row (1985 to 87), which was more memorable because teams didn’t run on Barfield’s arm. He also had 8 outfield double plays in 1985 (and 21 from 1985-1987), better than most teams would get in a season.

He, Lloyd Moseby, and George Bell played together for several seasons and were easily the best outfield we’ve ever had. Jesse won two Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger, and made the All-Star team once as a Blue Jay.

There are many people to whom I owe a debt for my baseball fandom. The outfield of Bell, Moseby, and Barfield are up high on the list. Watching them become the best outfield in baseball helped me get deeper into baseball. I compared them to other ‘great’ outfields of the past. Not the best of all time (the Tigers had Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford, and Bobby Veach was, most likely, the best of all time), but I think that Bell, Moseby, and Barfield would rank in the top 10 outfields of all-time.

The Jays traded Barfield to the Yankees in 1989 for Al Leiter. It was one of those heart-breaking trades that failed us miserably.

In Barfield’s 12 year career, he hit .256/.335/.466 with 241 home runs in 1428 games.

I got a signed ball from him in Cooperstown when we were there for the induction of Roy Halladay. He looks the same as he did back when he played and was as kind to everyone as you would have hoped he’d be.

Jesse has been pretty active on Twitter of late, @JesseBarfield29. And he is an alumni ambassador for the Jays, not that I know what that is.

Happy birthday, Jesse, I hope it is a good one.

R.A. Dickey turns 47.

As I’m sure you remember, he was picked up in trade, along with catchers Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole, from the Mets for Wuilmer Becerra, John Buck, Travis d’Arnaud, and Noah Syndergaard.

Alex wanted an Ace to lead us to the playoffs. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way he was hoping. He was a Blue Jay for four seasons, going 49-52 with a 4.03 in 131 games and 130 starts.

It seemed he was a slow starter during his time with the Jays. In 2013 he had a 4.80 ERA in the first half and a 3.57 ERA. In 2014 he had a 3.82 ERA in the first half and 3.57 in the second half. In 2016 he was 5.28 in the first half and 3.56 in the second. 2015 was the outlier, 3.11 in the first half, 4.83 in the second.

We did make it to the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. Dickey made a couple of playoff starts in 2015. One good, 4.2 innings with just 1 run allowed when he was suddenly pulled for David Price. And one bad, going just 1.2, allowing 5 runs in a loss against the Royals.

He appears on our franchise pitching lists. He’s:

  • Tied for 13th in wins.
  • 12th in innings pitched.
  • 16th in strikeouts.
  • 11th in starts.

He wasn’t loved by the Jays fanbase, mainly because they oversold him. He won the Cy Young his last season with the Mets, and we thought we were getting the guy that would lead us to the World Series. It wasn’t his fault we had overly high hope for him.

R.A. seemed like a great guy. He, at least publicly, seemed to enjoy his time with the Jays. He wasn’t your average baseball player. He had fun in interviews with the media, enjoying confusing them with big words and keeping them guessing. For us nerds, it was fun seeing a nerd on our team.

Dickey pitched for the Braves in 2017, going 10-10 with a 4.26 ERA in 31 starts.

He played 15 seasons and had a 120-118 record with a 4.04 ERA in 300 starts and 100 relief appearances. His best season was 2012 when he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA.

Happy birthday, R.A. I hope it is a good one.

It’s also Dana Eveland’s 38th birthday today. Dana made 9 starts for us in 2010, putting up a 6.45 ERA.

He played in 11 MLB seasons, playing in 187 games, with 61 starts. He had a 20-28 record with a 5.46 ERA.

Happy birthday to you, Dana.