Doyle Lafayette Alexander | SP | 1983-1986
Doyle Alexander was born September 4th, 1950, in Cordova, Alabama. He was picked in the 9th round of the 1968 amateur draft by the Dodgers. He was easily the best pick of the 9th round of that draft. Only 3 others from that round made the majors, and none of them did much at all. He made it to the majors in 1971 with the Dodgers.
Doyle bounced around the majors playing for the Orioles, Yankees, Rangers, Braves, Giants, and Yankees again before the Jays signed him as a free agent on June 21st, 1983, month after the Yankees released him in May of that season. He had a real up and down career before joining the Blue Jays, though he had an excellent season with the Rangers in 1977, ending with a 17-11 record. After one relief appearance Doyle joined the Jays’ starting rotation on July 12th. He made 15 starts for the Jays, finishing 7-6, with 5 complete games and a 3.93. For a guy that was awful with the Yankees, he turned it around for us.
1984, his first full season as a Jay, Doyle had, likely, the best year of his career. He was 17-6 in 35 starts, 11 complete games, and a 3.13 ERA, with the 4th best WHIP and 3rd most innings pitched in the league. He led the league in winning percentage and even picked up an MVP vote that year. He only struck out 139 batters in 261.2 innings, but he managed to get the outs when he needed them.
In 1985 we made the playoffs for the first time, and Doyle was a big part in getting us there with a 17-10 record in 36 starts and a 3.45 ERA. His won/loss record was helped by a league-leading 8 wins in non-quality starts. Again there must have been some good defense played behind him to keep such a low ERA with just 142 strikeouts in 260.2 innings. Doyle was 6th in the Cy Young vote and 3 points in MVP voting tying him with Jay reliever Dennis Lamp for 21st voting. Alexander started two games of our seven-game ALCS loss to the Royals. He had a no-decision in a loss in game three and took the loss in game six. The playoffs didn’t go well for Alexander in his career. He was on the losing side in all the series’ he appeared in and was 0-4 in 6 playoff starts with an 8.38 ERA.
In 1986 Doyle made 17 starts going 5-4 with a 4.46 before being traded to the Atlanta Braves for Duane Ward. It was one of our better trades, though we didn’t do as good as the Braves did a year later when they moved Doyle to the Tigers for John Smoltz. That one is high on lists of worse trades ever, although Doyle helped the Tigers to a first-place finish, just beating out the Jays, by going 9-0 for the Tigers down the stretch. That’s when I learned to hate Doyle. But I can’t argue he wasn’t a good pitcher for us. His Adjusted ERA+ with the Jays was 119.
Like many soft throwers, Doyle threw several different pitches sinker, slider, change, 82-86 mph fastball, curve, and occasional knuckleball. And he would change arm angles, mostly throwing straight overtop but throwing three-quarter or sidearm some. A fly ball pitcher, he gave up his share of homers but usually solo shots.
Doyle pitched for the Tigers through the 1989 season. After a 19-year career and a 194-174 record and a 3.86 ERA in 561 games, he retired.
In four seasons with the Jays, Doyle was 46-25 with a 3.56 ERa in 106 games, 103 starts.
In my memory, Doyle wasn’t exactly a friendly happy friendly fellow, or at least he didn’t seem that way from a distance. Maybe he was warm and friendly with his teammates. He was the type of pitcher who I always think would make a good pitching coach. He threw many different pitches and changed arm angles a bunch.
Doyle was one of those guys who didn’t walk many or strikeout many, but he used his defense, got ground balls, and didn’t give up the big inning. And he threw a lot of innings for us.
There was a little bit about him in ‘The Scouting Report” from 1984: Alexander usually starts batters off with a slider which he keeps low. He will come back with a breaking ball, spot the fastball on the corner, then tinker with a change, whether ahead or behind in the count. He does not give in to the batters by walking them and will make them hit a low breaking ball if he can.
Here is some video of Doyle pitching (but I like it for the look at Dennis Lamp’s mustache):
Doyle Alexander’s place among all-time Jay pitching leaders:
ERA 6th 3.56 (> 500 innings)Wins 16th 46
WHIP 4th 1.232 (> 500 innings)
Walks/9innings 4th 2.06 (>500 innings) (Josh Towers is number one)
Innings 16th 750
Strikeouts 28th 392
Games Started 17th 103
Complete Games 7th 25