TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' 2017 season began with high expectations, but a lack of depth and countless injuries made sure it never really got off the ground.Toronto placed 25 players on the disabled list in 2017, which resulted in 1,394 games lost to injury and eliminated any hopes of
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' 2017 season began with high expectations, but a lack of depth and countless injuries made sure it never really got off the ground.
Toronto placed 25 players on the disabled list in 2017, which resulted in 1,394 games lost to injury and eliminated any hopes of contending. The Blue Jays dropped to last in the American League East on Opening Day and remained there until the final day of the regular season.
It wasn't necessarily pretty, but this Blue Jays season also wasn't completely void of excitement. The emergence of Justin Smoak, Marcus Stroman's dominance, Jose Bautista's farewell and arguably the most acrobatic slide in franchise history are just a few of the standout performances.
Before the calendar turns to another year, it's time to take one last look at 2017. Here are the top five moments for a Blue Jays team that went 76-86 under the second year of president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins:
Chris Coghlan's tenure in Toronto did not last very long, but he was responsible for the top play of the year. The Blue Jays' motto for their fan base was "Let's Rise," and Coghlan brought a whole new meaning to the term with one of the most acrobatic slides the game has ever seen. Coghlan turned what appeared to be a guaranteed out into a shocking run by soaring over the head of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in a tie ballgame. Coghlan appeared to have no chance, but clearly, the veteran utility man had other ideas, as he avoided the tag and had the presence of mind to touch the plate in one fluid motion with his hands while crashing into the dirt.
Bautista's career isn't necessarily over but his time with the Blue Jays is, and by September, everyone knew it. For Toronto's final home game on Sept. 24, Marcus Stroman warmed up while wearing Bautista's old jersey. His teammates remained in the dugout when Bautista took the field at the start of the game to make sure he received a proper ovation. Then, most fitting of all, Bautista was removed in the top of the ninth to a thunderous applause while hugging each of his teammates on his way off the field. Blue Jays fans never got a chance for a proper goodbye to Edwin Encarnacion, but when the opportunity arose to honor Bautista, they did not disappoint.
The Grand Slams
Steve Pearce made Major League history when he became one of three players to hit two walk-off grand slams in the same season. Pearce joined his former hitting coach, Jim Presley, in 1986, and Cy Williams, who did it the same season that Rogers Hornsby's Cardinals beat Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series. To make this story even more incredible, Pearce needed less than a week to get the job done. His first walk-off grand slam came on July 27 vs. Oakland, while the second came just three days later in a come-from-behind victory over the Angels.
The Oppo Taco
Stroman has always talked a big game when it comes to hitting, and he backed it up on May 18 with the first home run of his career. The Toronto right-hander hit an opposite-field homer, going back-to-back with Luke Maile, during the fourth inning of a 9-0 win over the Braves. Stroman joined lefty Mark Hendrickson (June 21, 2003) as the only pitchers in franchise history to go deep. Adding to his impressive year, Stroman also hit a pinch-hit double vs. the Cardinals on April 25.
The Hat Trick
Kendrys Morales did not perform as expected this season, but he still had a couple of signature games, and Aug. 31 vs. the Orioles was one of them. The veteran designated hitter became the first Toronto player to have four hits, three home runs and seven RBIs in the same game. The seven RBIs were a new career high, and the three home runs matched his personal best. Carlos Delgado still owns the bragging rights for arguably the best offensive game in franchise history with a four-homer performance on Sept. 25, 2003, but he finished that one with six RBIs.
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.