Blue Jays' best player at every number

December 28th, 2020

TORONTO -- When you scan the crowd of a baseball game at Rogers Centre, you see jersey numbers that define eras of Blue Jays baseball. 

There are plenty of No. 19 and No. 20 jerseys for José Bautista and Josh Donaldson, with the postseason runs of 2015 and ‘16 still fresh, while Roy Halladay’s No. 32 and Roberto Alomar’s No. 12 -- the only two numbers retired by the organization -- remain a staple. 

As the next generation of Blue Jays stars begin to lay claim to their own numbers and climb the ranks of franchise greats before them, here is a look back through club history at the best player to wear each:

0: 1B Al Oliver (1985)
Oliver’s 18-year Major League career ended with the Blue Jays, who acquired him from the Dodgers midway through the 1985 season. Oliver hit .251 with five home runs over 61 games for Toronto.

00: RHP Taijuan Walker (2020) 
With a 1.37 ERA over six starts, Walker helped push the Blue Jays into the expanded 2020 postseason after coming over at the Trade Deadline. Wearing the double-zero takes a certain swagger, but Walker pulled it off perfectly.

1: SS Tony Fernandez (1983-90, 1993, 1998-99, 2001)
A franchise icon, No. 1 will always belong to Fernandez, who spent time with the organization four different times. Known for his ranging shortstop play and trademark throws across his body, Fernandez and No. 1 are synonymous among Blue Jays fans. Toronto rarely retires numbers, but if they expanded that group, the late Fernandez would certainly be up for consideration.

2: 2B Aaron Hill (2005-11)
An All-Star in 2009, when he launched 36 home runs, Hill spent six-plus seasons with the Blue Jays after breaking through in 2005. He eventually went on to play for the D-backs, Giants, Red Sox and Brewers during his 13-year Major League career.

3: 2B Orlando Hudson (2002-05)
The O-Dog was a fan favourite in his four seasons in Toronto, and rightfully so. The four-time Gold Glove Award winner played a style of defense that wasn’t just solid, but stylish. His diving plays at second base filled up the highlight reels in some of the lean years for the Blue Jays.

4: SS/2B Manuel Lee (1985-92)
Lee was an integral part of the late-80s and early-90s Blue Jays teams, leading up to the club’s first World Series Championship in 1992. Lee didn’t hit much, posting a .254 average and .627 OPS over his eight years with the Blue Jays, but was known as a strong defender. He shares No. 4 with Alfredo Griffin, a fellow Dominican infielder who played eight seasons for the Blue Jays

5: 3B Rance Mulliniks (1982-92)
Acquired by the Blue Jays from the Royals in 1982, Mulliniks was a key piece of the club for 11 seasons and his contributions have often been underrated. Mulliniks hit .280 with a .790 OPS over those seasons, peaking with a very strong run in the mid-80s.

6: RHP Marcus Stroman (2015-19)
The Stro Show pitched for parts of six seasons with the Blue Jays before being dealt to the Mets in 2019, and it was never boring. One of the game's most passionate competitors, Stroman repped No. 6 well, going 47-45 with a 3.76 ERA in Toronto. He was always eager to take the ball in big moments, too, making five starts in the postseason runs of 2015 and ‘16.

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7: 2B Damaso Garcia (1980-86)
Garcia played seven seasons with the Blue Jays, making him another everyday piece on those mid-80s teams that started to raise the bar for the Blue Jays. His best years came in 1982 and ‘83, earning him a Silver Slugger Award before he went on to make two All-Star appearances.

8: SS Alex Gonzalez (1994-2001) 
A 13th-round Draft pick, Gonzalez debuted right after the World Series years, in 1994, and spent the next eight seasons for Toronto. Gonzalez hit double-digit home runs six times for the Blue Jays and stole 21 bases in 1998.

9: 1B John Olerud (1989-96)
One of the best pure hitters to ever wear a Blue Jays uniform, Olerud’s sweet swing from the left side is hard to forget. Olerud was one of the game's most consistent hitters in the 1990s, but no season was better than 1993, when he chased a .400 average into August. He finished that season hitting .363 with a 1.072 OPS en route to a World Series.

10: 1B Edwin Encarnacion (2011-16)
Encarnacion shares a piece of No. 10 with Vernon Wells, who spent 12 strong seasons with the Blue Jays. Encarnacion formed an incredible one-two punch with José Bautista, both late-bloomers that finally hit their stride in Toronto. Over eight seasons and 999 games in Toronto, Encarnacion hit 239 home runs.

11: OF George Bell (1981-90)
Bell was the first Blue Jays player to win the American League MVP Award, in 1987, when he hit .308 with 47 home runs, at the time a club record. Bell was part of those incredible Blue Jays outfields in the 80s and finished with 202 home runs over nine seasons with the Blue Jays.

12: 2B Roberto Alomar (1991-95)
The Hall of Famer spent just five seasons with the Blue Jays, but his impact was immediate. Alomar was at the heart of the club’s back-to-back World Series runs in 1992 and ‘93, winning a Gold Glove Award and being named to the All-Star Game in each season. Over five years in Toronto, Alomar hit .307 with an .833 OPS.

13: C Buck Martinez (1981-86)
Prior to serving as the TV voice and manager of the Blue Jays, Buck Martinez was their catcher. Martinez closed out his 17-year career with six years in Toronto, appearing in 454 games.

14: 1B Justin Smoak (2015-19)
Smoak came to Toronto as a former top prospect, but left as an All-Star. A clubhouse and fan favorite, Smoak hit 117 home runs over his five seasons with the Blue Jays, peaking with 38 in 2017. He was also a safety net for his infielders over at first base and quietly mentored some of the young Blue Jays who were coming up.

15: OF Lloyd Moseby (1980-89)
No. 15 has seen plenty of talent with Alex Rios, Shawn Green and others, but Moseby stands above the crowd. Fans of those 1980s Blue Jays teams still remember Moseby’s speed, as he stole 30-plus bases in five consecutive seasons from 1984-1988.

16: 2B/3B Garth Iorg (1980-87)
Iorg was a career Jay, spending all nine of his Major League seasons with the club. His best year came in 1985, when Iorg hit .313 with an .827 OPS, setting a career high with seven home runs.

17: 3B Kelly Gruber (1984-92)
Gruber played nine seasons with the Blue Jays and, while his true talent wasn’t always on display, it was impressive when Gruber put it all together. That certainly happened in 1990, when Gruber hit .274 with 31 home runs and an OPS of .842, earning him his first Silver Slugger Award and second All-Star appearance.

18: RHP Jim Clancy (1977-88)
Clancy was a model of consistency with the Blue Jays, consistently hauling plenty of innings over his 12 years with the club. The right-hander owned a career 4.10 ERA with Toronto, with his best season arguably coming in 1982. That year, Clancy pitched to a 3.71 ERA over 40 starts (266 2/3 IP) with a career-high 16 wins.

19: OF José Bautista (2010-17)
If each jersey number was used to build a lineup, No. 19’s would be scary. Fred McGriff and Paul Molitor donned it, but it will always belong to Bautista in Toronto. From his breakthrough season with 54 home runs in 2010 to six consecutive All-Star appearances and the famous Bat Flip, Bautista is in elite company as one of the greatest players to ever wear the Blue Jays uniform.

20: 3B Josh Donaldson (2015-18)
Donaldson became the Blue Jays second-ever American League MVP Award winner in 2015, his first with the club. Donaldson hit .297 with 41 home runs and an OPS of .939 that season, and when you factor in his defense, there was a time where he was one of the best two or three players in the game. He’ll be remembered just as much for the attitude he played with, which those playoff teams of ‘15 and ‘16 embraced fully.

21: RHP Roger Clemens (1997-98)
Clemens spent just two seasons with the Blue Jays, but we may never see another performance in Toronto that matches what he did. The Rocket won the Cy Young Award both years, posting a combined 2.33 ERA with 563 strikeouts over 498 2/3 innings. Measured by WAR (FanGraphs), Clemens’ seasons were the two most valuable in Blue Jays history.

22: LHP Jimmy Key (1984-92)
A Blue Jays great, Key pitched nine excellent seasons for the Blue Jays before finally getting his ring in 1992. He was rocksteady, with a 3.42 ERA over those seasons, but had some peaks along the way, too. His best came in 1987, when Key pitched to a 2.76 ERA over 261 innings.

23: OF José Cruz (1997-2002) 
Cruz was acquired from the Mariners in 1997, then went on to play six seasons for the Blue Jays. His best came in 2001, when Cruz hit 34 home runs and stole 32 bases to go along with an .857 OPS.

24: OF Shannon Stewart (1998-2003) 
Stewart was a fixture in Toronto for a decade with an impressive all-around game. The outfielder hit .298 with an .805 OPS over those seasons, including a 51-steal campaign in 1998.

25: 1B Carlos Delgado (1993-2004) 
Even with Delgado’s eye-popping numbers, his career with the Blue Jays and beyond remains underrated. The slugging first baseman, who came up as a catcher, hit 336 career home runs with the Blue Jays to go along with a .949 OPS over 12 seasons. He actually wore No. 6 and No. 21 for his first four seasons before taking over No. 25.

26: 1B Willie Upshaw (1978-87)
Upshaw spent nine seasons with the Blue Jays and was one of the club’s first full-time starting first basemen after they joined the league as an expansion team in 1977. He launched 112 home runs with the Blue Jays and, in 1983, posted a career-best .887 OPS. The next year, in 1984, he tallied 104 RBIs.

27: 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (2019-) 
Guerrero is in the conversation already for No. 27, and it won’t take long for him to make this number his entirely. Guerrero’s early seasons haven’t quite matched the hype that came along with being baseball’s No. 1 prospect, but the young Guerrero has rare gifts that the Blue Jays hope will stay in Toronto for a long time.

28: LHP Al Leiter (1989-95)
Leiter saw just nine appearances over his first four years with the Blue Jays, but by 1993 was a regular contributor. Mostly working as a starter once he was established, Leiter owned a 4.20 ERA over his seven seasons in Toronto before going on to some successful years with the Marlins and Mets.

29: OF Jesse Barfield (1981-89)
Joe Carter had the biggest moment by a No. 29, but Jesse Barfield gets the nod for his overall body of work. Part of the great Blue Jays outfields of the 80s, Barfield had plenty of power and reached 40 home runs in 1986, the same year he won his first Gold Glove Award. In total, Barfield launched 179 home runs over 1,032 games with the Blue Jays.

30: RHP Todd Stottlemyre (1989-94)
The first-round pick was part of the Blue Jays rotation for the glory years in the early 90s, making 175 career starts and 31 relief appearances for the club over seven seasons. Stottlemyre’s best season came in 1991, with a 3.78 ERA and 15 wins over 219 innings.

31: RHP Duane Ward (1986-95)
One of the greatest pitchers in Blue Jays history, starter or reliever, Ward was dominant. The right-hander would fit right into the modern game today, but in the late 80s and early 90s, Ward pitched over 100 innings of relief for five consecutive seasons with a high strikeout rate. Ward was used more often as Tom Henke’s setup man early, but took over the closer’s role in 1993 and ran with it, saving 45 games.

32: RHP Roy Halladay (1999-2009) 
One of just two numbers retired by the organization, there will never be another Roy Halladay. The right-hander is the greatest pitcher in Blue Jays history not only for his performance on the field, but for how well he sustained that across parts of 12 seasons while carrying such a heavy load. The late Halladay was a classic workhorse who won the Cy Young Award in each league before retiring following the 2013 season. Even today, young pitchers coming up through the Blue Jays organization point to Halladay as an idol.

33: 3B Ed Sprague (1991-98)
Best remembered for his pinch-hit heroics in Game 2 of the 1992 World Series, Sprague has two rings from his eight years with the Blue Jays. The 1996 season was Sprague’s finest, as he launched a career-high 36 home runs to go with an .821 OPS.

34: RHP A.J. Burnett (2006-08)
Burnett was a splashy signing by the Blue Jays entering 2016, after he’d pitched the first seven seasons of his career with the Marlins. The talented right-hander didn’t dominate in Toronto, but he held up his end of the bargain with a 3.94 ERA over three seasons.

35: 1B Lyle Overbay (2006-10)
There’s a case to be made for Frank Thomas at No. 35, but Overbay gets the nod for his stretch of five seasons in Toronto.

36: LHP David Wells (1987-92, 1999-2000)
Wells’ two stints with the Blue Jays covered eight seasons. His early tenure saw Wells go from a reliever to a starter. He eventually established himself as a full-time starter with the Tigers and, by the time he returned to the Blue Jays, was a 20-game winner in 2000.

37: RHP Dave Stieb (1979-92, 1998)
One of the all-time Blue Jays and one of the greatest pitchers of the 1980s, Stieb did it all. There were peak seasons along the way but, much like Roy Halladay, what makes Stieb so impressive is how he sustained this success across a decade-plus of pitching. The seven-time All-Star is worthy of even more accolades than he received in his playing career.

38: RHP Mark Eichhorn (1986-88, 1992-93)
Eichhorn owns one of the most impressive individual seasons in club history when, in 1986, he posted a 1.72 ERA over 157 innings. Those are all relief innings, spread over 69 appearances. After four seasons with the Blue Jays out of the gates, he later returned in the early ‘90s, winning two championships.

39: LHP Gustavo Chacin (2004-07)
Known for his strong rookie campaign in 2005 and the “Chacin Cologne” giveaway night at SkyDome (“It smells like victory”), Chacin spent four seasons with the Blue Jays. His best will always be that 2005 campaign, though, when he went 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA and finished fifth in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

40: RHP Mike Timlin (1991-97)
Timlin’s impressive 18-year career included seven with the Blue Jays. Working almost exclusively as a reliever, Timlin made 305 appearances with a 3.62 ERA for the Blue Jays, including 52 saves.

41: RHP Pat Hentgen (1991-99, 2004)
The 1996 American League Cy Young Award winner was drafted and developed by the Blue Jays, where he spent nine seasons before returning for a 10th at the end of his career. In that Cy Young year, Hentgen won 20 games with a 3.22 ERA over 265 2/3 innings.

42: LHP Paul Mirabella (1980-81)
Mirabella wore No. 42 prior to Major League Baseball’s decision to retire the number in honor of the great Jackie Robinson. In two seasons split between the bullpen and rotation for the Blue Jays, Mirabella posted a 4.64 ERA.

43: RHP R.A. Dickey (2013-16)
The Blue Jays acquired the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner as part of their all-in push for 2013. It didn’t pay off, but Dickey gave the Blue Jays four very respectable seasons with a cumulative ERA of 4.05. His knuckleball was sometimes a weapon and sometimes an adventure, depending on the night, but it was fascinating to watch when he was on.

44: RHP Casey Janssen (2006-14)
During his eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Janssen had a fantastic run from 2010 to 2014, which saw him emerge as the club’s closer. In total, Janssen owned a 3.52 ERA with the Blue Jays and racked up 90 saves.

45: RHP Kelvim Escobar (1997-2003) 
Escobar debuted as a young reliever in 1997 before moving to the rotation. He eventually transitioned back into a relief role, leaving him with 101 starts and 200 relief appearances over his time in Toronto. Escobar’s best came in 2001, when he posted a 3.50 ERA over 126 innings split between his two roles.

46: LHP Mike Flanagan (1987-90)
Flanagan is remembered as a member of the Orioles, but he gave the Blue Jays four fine seasons along the way, beginning in 1987.

47: RHP Jack Morris (1992-93)
The Hall of Fame right-hander was one of the final pieces to the puzzle ahead of the 1992 and 1993 World Series runs, and he earned his third ring with his third organization in 1992.

48: RHP Paul Quantrill (1996-2001) 
Over 20 starts and 366 appearances out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays, Quantrill owned a 3.67 ERA over six seasons.

49: LHP Tony Castillo (1988-89, 1993-96)
Castillo was quietly an important piece of the Blue Jays bullpen. His best run came after he returned to the club in 1993, when he was part of the World Series run.

50: RHP Tom Henke (1985-92)
Henke saved 217 games for the Blue Jays, making him one of the most dominant relievers of his era. Over eight seasons, Henke owned a 2.48 ERA.

51: RHP Ken Giles (2018-20)
Giles came to the Blue Jays in a 2018 trade and immediately took over as the team’s closer. With a full season in 2019, Giles saved 23 games with a 1.87 ERA and 83 strikeouts over just 53 innings.

52: LHP B.J. Ryan (2006-09)
Ryan was a big signing for the Blue Jays entering 2006 and was incredible in his first season, posting a 1.37 ERA with 38 saves in one of the best seasons from a Blue Jays reliever.

53: OF Melky Cabrera (2013-14)
Cabrera spent two years with the Blue Jays and showed his natural hitting talent in 2014, when he hit .301 with an .808 OPS.

54: RHP Jason Frasor (2004-11)
Fraser was steady for the Blue Jays for nine seasons, an impressive run for the right-hander who worked exclusively as a reliever. While he rarely had save opportunities, Fraser appeared in 505 games over those nine seasons.

55: C Russell Martin (2015-18)
The Blue Jays brought in the Canadian catcher to help push them into the postseason, and that’s exactly what he did in each of his first two seasons. Over his four seasons with the Blue Jays, the fan favorite hit 66 home runs with a .735 OPS.

56: LHP Mark Buehrle (2013-15)
The veteran lefty came over in a blockbuster trade with the Marlins prior to the 2013 season and kept hitters off balance with his mix of pitches that lacked velocity, pitching to a 3.78 ERA over 97 starts in Toronto.

57: RHP Shawn Camp (2008-11)
Camp, a right-handed reliever, pitched four strong seasons for the Blue Jays. His best came in 2010, when he owned a 2.99 ERA over 70 appearances.

58: RHP Todd Redmond (2013-15)
Redmond was a swingman for three seasons with the Blue Jays. In 2014, Redmond posted a 3.24 ERA over 75 innings out of the bullpen.

59: RHP Jesse Carlson (2008-10)
All three of Carlson’s Major League seasons came with the Blue Jays, where he owned a 3.63 ERA over 162 relief appearances. The 2008 season was particularly impressive, with a 2.25 ERA over 60 innings.

60: LHP Scott Schoeneweis (2005-06)
The lefty pitched two seasons with the Blue Jays, he was a valuable piece of the bullpen in 2005 with a 3.32 ERA over 57 innings.

61: SS Gift Ngoepe (2018) 
The only player to wear No. 61, Ngoepe played in 13 games with the Blue Jays in 2018.

62: LHP Aaron Loup (2012-18)
A lefty specialist for much of his time with the Blue jays, Loup made 369 appearances over seven years. At his best, in 2013, Loup pitched to a 2.47 ERA over 69 1/3 innings.

63: RHP Kevin Gregg (2010)
The big right-hander pitched just one season in Toronto, saving 37 games with a 3.51 ERA as the closer.

64: RHP Chad Jenkins (2012-15)
The Blue Jays’ first-round Draft pick in 2009, he played parts of four seasons with the club.

65: RHP Elvis Luciano (2019-) 
Luciano debuted as a 19-year-old in 2019, after the Blue Jays selected him in the Rule 5 Draft and keep him on the roster for the season, thus retaining his control as a prospect.

66: RHP Juan Guzman (1991-98)
With plenty of style and pitches that would fit right into the modern game, Guzman was dominant at times with the Blue Jays, particularly in 1996 when he posted a 2.93 ERA over 187 2/3 innings. In total, Guzman made 195 starts with the Blue Jays with a 4.07 ERA.

67: LHP Buddy Boshers (2019) 
Boshers joined the Blue Jays for one season in 2019, where he posted a 4.05 ERA over 28 appearances.

68: RHP Jordan Romano (2019-) 
The Canadian right-hander got his first taste of the big leagues in 2019 but truly broke out in 2020, when he became one of the club’s best stories in the shortened season. Romano pitched to a 1.23 ERA over 15 appearances.

69: RHP Peter Munro (1999) 
The lone No. 69 in Blue Jays history, Munro briefly wore the number in 1999.

70: SS/2B Domingo Cedeno (1993-96)
Cedeno came up with the Blue Jays in 1993 and established himself as a regular part-time player in the following seasons.

71: RHP T.J. Zeuch (2019-) 
Zeuch switched to No. 35 in 2020 but, until someone else dons No. 71, the big right-hander gets the nod. Through his first two Major League seasons, Zeuch has come up to make four starts and four relief appearances.

72: C Beau Taylor (2019) 
Taylor appeared in one game for the Blue Jays, making two plate appearances.

73: RHP Ryan Dull (2019) 
Another member of the “one appearance club,” Dull got into his lone game in 2019 and pitched 1 1/3 innings.

74: INF Breyvic Valera (2019) 
Valera closed out the 2019 season with the Blue Jays, appearing in five games. Valera made it count, hitting a home run and going 4-for-15 (.267)

77: RHP John Axford (2018) 
Adding another Canadian to the list, Axford’s impressive 10-year career included a stop with the Blue Jays in 2018, where he posted a 4.41 ERA over 45 appearances to open the season, then was dealt to the Dodgers at the Trade Deadline.

79: LHP Travis Bergen (2020)
After coming up as a prospect, Bergen was selected by the Giants in the Rule 5 Draft prior to 2019, but was later returned to the Blue Jays. He made one appearance before being dealt to the D-backs for left-hander Robbie Ray at the Trade Deadline.

85: C Alejandro Kirk (2020-) 
Kirk broke through as an immediate fan favorite in 2020, going 9-for-24 (.375) with a home run and two doubles in his brief debut. There could be plenty more to come from Kirk, who is one of the most naturally gifted young hitters in the organization.

88: INF Rene Gonzales (1991) 
Gonzales spent one season with the Blue Jays in 1991, appearing in 71 games. The infielder hit .195 with a .535 OPS, but did manage to sneak one home run over the wall with Toronto.

99: Hyun Jin Ryu (2020-) 
Canada’s most famous jersey number, thanks to the NHL’s Wayne Gretzky, Ryu kept his No. 99 after signing a four-year deal with the Blue Jays and got off to a great start. In 2020, Ryu posted a 2.69 ERA and finished third in American League Cy Young voting, giving the Blue Jays the established veteran ace that they wanted to align with their young core of position players.