Jose Bautista turns 43 today.
From 2008 to 2017, those years would have been so much different without Jost. He gave us so many great moments over the years. But, of course, the best was the home run and bat flip in Game 5.
When we traded for him in August of 2008, the trade didn’t even merit a post on our site. It was the best trade of JP Ricciardi’s time as manager, and it didn’t get its own post. He played six games before getting his first hit as a Jay, and people weren’t thrilled with him. He hit his first home run on September 2nd.
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). However, 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 group 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 never thought I’d see a player that would match him for intensity, but then we got Josh Donaldson, who seems his twin in that way. I remember Jose quietly stepping between Josh and the umpires when it seemed like Donaldson was about to get thrown out of a game, and I thought Jose could have used someone doing that for him in the past.
I like guys who want to win, though I’ll admit, I liked it when Jose showed us his sense of humour.
Some people complained that Jose wasn’t a leader or a good teammate. But, 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 suggests he was a good teammate.
I can’t imagine what those years would have been like without him. Not nearly as enjoyable, I’m sure. The team put his name on the Level of Excellence during the 2023 season.
I enjoyed getting to see him play in the Olympics. It was great to see that batting stance again.
Happy Birthday, Jose. I hope it is a good one.
J.A. Happ turns 41 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 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. However, he figured things out with the Pirates (with the help of pitching coach Ray Searage). He went 7-2 with a 1.85 ERA in 11 starts.
After the season, he signed back with the Blue Jays, had his only 20-win season in 2016, 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA, and 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 a 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.
In 2021, he signed with the Twins, made 19 poor starts, and they traded him to the Cardinals, where he made 11 much better starts.
As a Blue Jay, 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 43 today. Davis played three seasons with the Blue Jays in his 14-year career.
As a Blue Jay, he hit .252/.299/.369 with 125 stolen bases, 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 pitches 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 46 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 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 Puerto Rican Winter Leagues.
Happy Birthday, Randy.