TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have enjoyed many of baseball’s great peak seasons since their debut in 1977, from longtime fan favorites to stars who stopped in for a season or two.
Looking back through the club’s 44-year history, here is a lineup made entirely of the best individual seasons ever recorded at each position by a Blue Jays player.
C: Russell Martin (2015)
Key stats: 23 HR, .787 OPS
Martin’s first year with the Blue Jays was his finest, as the Canadian catcher was at the heart of the club’s return to the postseason. Martin had one of his best power seasons, hitting a career-best 23 home runs with 77 RBIs. He was a pitcher’s best friend, too, as Martin threw out 32 of 72 (44%) attempted base-stealers. His 4.5 WAR (FanGraphs) is the highest by any Blue Jays catcher in a single season and, when you place that alongside the impact he had on the organization and the team’s success, Martin is an easy choice behind the plate.
1B: John Olerud (1993)
Key stats: .363 AVG, .473 OBP
While the all-time team would have Carlos Delgado at first base, Olerud’s 1993 season stands as one of the greatest performances we’ve ever seen from a Blue Jays hitter. The sweet-swinging lefty chased a .400 average into August and, even after fading late, ended up hitting .363 with an absurd .473 on-base percentage. That was good for 8.1 WAR, an incredible feat for a player whose value came almost solely from their bat. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the 1993 version of Olerud is who you want at the plate.
2B: Roberto Alomar (1993)
Key stats: 17 HR, .900 OPS
Alomar showed the signs of superstardom in his 1991 debut with the Blue Jays and stepped into that spotlight in 1992, but the 1993 season was his best at the plate in Toronto. Alomar launched 17 home runs with 93 RBIs, a .900 OPS and 55 stolen bases, all of which were career highs for the Future Hall of Famer at the time. He also won his third of six consecutive Gold Glove Awards that season.
SS: Tony Fernandez (1987)
Key stats: .322 AVG, 32 SB
Fernandez always had the defensive skill that Blue Jays fans remember so fondly, so the 1987 season gets the nod for being one of his best at the plate. Fernandez was valued at 4.8 WAR that year, a leaderboard that he owns the top four spots on, and put together a very impressive all-around offensive performance. To go along with his .322 average, Fernandez put up a .379 on-base percentage with 32 stolen bases and more walks (51) than strikeouts (48). With he and Alomar together on the middle infield, any ball on the ground will be an out.
3B: Josh Donaldson (2015)
Key stats: 41 HR, 123 RBIs, .939 OPS
The American League MVP in 2015, Donaldson is an easy choice at third base for the Blue Jays. Immediately after coming over in a blockbuster deal from the A’s, Donaldson launched into the best season of his career, hitting new career highs with 41 home runs, 41 doubles and 123 RBIs. Adding him to the infield alongside Alomar and Fernandez also makes this roster a defensive powerhouse. Donaldson’s glove, on top of his incredible offensive numbers, made his 8.7 WAR season one of the most valuable in club history.
LF: George Bell (1987)
Key stats: 47 HR, 134 RBIs
Who else but the club’s only other American League MVP in club history, George Bell? The slugging left fielder put up a .957 OPS that season while setting new club records at the time with 47 home runs and 135 RBIs. Shannon Stewart and Joe Carter had some impressive seasons of their own, but Bell’s MVP campaign valued at 5.3 WAR stands above the rest.
CF: Lloyd Moseby (1983)
Key stats: .315 AVG, 18 HR, 27 SB
Center field is a dead heat between Moseby and the great Devon White, but Shaker gets the slight edge. While Moseby’s defensive metrics weren’t as strong in 1983 as they were in 1984, his offensive performance that season is too good to pass up. Moseby hit .315 with an .875 OPS, both of which stuck as career bests for him over his 12 years in the Major Leagues. Along with his 18 home runs and 27 steals, Moseby impacted the game in each facet. The 5.8 WAR in 1983 still ranks below his 6.9 WAR in 1984, but with his glove still plenty valuable, his best offensive season it too good to pass up.
RF: José Bautista (2011)
Key stats: 43 HR, 103 RBIs, 1.056 OPS
It’s tempting to lean towards the year prior in 2010, when Bautista announced himself as one of the game’s best power hitters with 54 home runs, but the all-around offensive profile of his 2011 season was otherworldly. On top of the 43 home runs, Bautista hit .302 with a massive .447 on-base percentage, both career bests. It’s difficult to fill out a 2-through-4in this all-time Blue Jays lineup, but Bautista has to be part of it.
DH: Edwin Encarnación (2012)
Key stats: 43 HR, 110 RBIs
Choosing between Encarnación's 2012 and Paul Molitor’s great 1993 season is splitting hairs -- and more a choice between styles than anything else -- but Encarnación gets the nod here for his game-changing power. The 2012 season was Encarnación's true breakout with the Blue Jays as he launched 42 home runs to go with a .384 on-base percentage and .941 OPS. He even tacked on 13 steals in 16 attempts that season, but we typically remember Encarnación for his slow trots around the bases.
SP: Roger Clemens (1997)
Key stats: 21-7, 2.05 ERA
The lineup was already looking strong enough, but with Clemens on the mound, they won’t need to do much. With a value of 10.7 WAR, this isn’t just the most valuable season in Blue Jays history, it’s one of the best single-season performances a pitcher has ever given. The Rocket held a 2.05 ERA over 264 innings and was simply unbeatable at times, with 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Even when each team’s aces faced off, it was Clemens with the clear edge.
RP: Mark Eichhorn (1986)
Key stats: 157 IP, 1.72 ERA
Franchise greats Duane Ward and Tom Henke are more than worthy, but Eichhorn’s 1986 season was too special to pass up. Besides, the idea of bringing in a soft-tossing submarine (or sidearm) pitcher with plenty of movement after the hard-throwing Clemens would give hitters nightmares. Eichhorn was incredible in 1986, throwing a whopping 157 innings over 69 relief appearances. He stuck out 166 batters along the way, good for a 4.9 WAR that is still the highest recorded by a Blue Jays reliever.