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Ferguson: A look back at the Blue Jays' greatest sluggers

Scott Ferguson
5/23/2014 11:52:46 AM
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Barry Bonds, for whatever you may think of him or his methods, still holds the all-time record for home runs in the month of May. He slugged 17 back in May, 2001.

The Jays' Edwin Encarnacion has brought back memories of that prodigious feat by cranking out 11 homers in 21 games so far this month, including five in his last four games. Encarnacion has nine games left in May -- all in the homer-friendly Rogers Centre -- to take a run at Bonds' mark. That's six homers to tie or seven to break Bonds' record in nine games. Not likely to happen, but not impossible either.

Inspired by Encarnacion's power display, I decided to go back through Blue Jays history and look at the numbers for some of the Jays' all-time home run leaders. I decided to take their three peak home run seasons with the club and add them up to get a read on where Encarnacion stands. Over his past three seasons, Encarnacion has hit a total of 95 homers but that includes 17 in 2011. With 13 already this year, he can easily supplant that total and  push his three year peak to well over 100.
 
In the mid to late 80s, the Blue Jays go-to guys for homers were Jesse Barfield and George Bell. Barfield led the American League in "round trippers" in '86 with 40 and his three-year total from 1985 through 1987 was 95; the best three-year run of his career. Bell hit a then club record 47 in 1987 and beat out the Tigers' Alan Trammell for the American League's Most Valuable Player award. Bell's peak three-year total was 102 homers.

Next up the ladder is the "Crime Dog" Fred McGriff. The tall, rangy first baseman belted a three-year total of 105 homers from 1988 to 1990 before being dealt, along with Tony Fernandez, to San Diego in the most important trade in franchise history for Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. Interesting to note; McGriff went on another great three-year power run, unlike the others from 91-93 with San Diego for two-and-a-half seasons and then a half season with Atlanta. He smacked another 103 homers over that span and finished his career with 493.

Joe Carter, another key player in those back-to-back World Series victories, hit an even 100 homers from 1991 through 1993. Jose Canseco had one magnificent season with the Blue Jays in 1998, where he hit 49 homers and stole 29 bases. But since it was only one season with the Jays, I don't consider him to be part of the mix in this storyline.
 
Next up is Shawn Green. From 1997 through 1999, the tall wiry right fielder hit 93 homers, including his top total of 42 in 1999, just before he was dealt to the Dodgers for Raul Mondesi. But Green was just getting started. In L.A from 2000 to 2002, he belted 115 homers, including 49 in 2001 and 42 in 2002, but for the purposes of this story, only the Blue Jays year's count.

Finally, we get down to the two men who so far have had the best three-year home run in franchise history. Carlos "the Captain" Delgado hit 124 from 1999 through 200, including 44 in '99 and 41 the following season. Delgado wound up his career just 27 shy of 500 with 473.
 
That brings us to Jose Bautista, who equaled Delgado's three-year run with 124 homers from 2010 to 2012, including a franchise record 54 in 2010. So to break that obscure mark of 124 homers over a three year period, Encarnacion would have to hit 47 home runs this season. In other words, he needs 34 more over the final 114 games, including 60 at home, to be considered the elite slugger in franchise history over his peak three years. It's not a milestone many would even consider that important but it should be a fun chase to watch nonetheless.
 
The Blue Jays, on the strength of a 14-7 month of May, have bumped their record to four games over .500 at 26 and 22 entering Friday night's three-game set at home against West Division-leading Oakland. They already have more victories than they did over the entire months of April and May a year ago, when they went 23-32.
 
Sad to see Texas out-right J.P Arencibia to their Triple "A" Round Rock affiliate earlier this week. In his first game with the "Express," Arencibia was the DH and went  for four with a strikeout.  Arencibia's final game with the Rangers was last Friday night at Arlington, when he caught Yu Darvish.  Arencibia went without a hit in that one and Drew Hutchison out-dueled Darvish and pitched a complete game shutout.  Ironically, in Darvish's next start against Detroit on Thursday at Comerica Park, Chris Giminez - the catcher called up to replace Arencibia - came up with the first four-hit game of his career. He had never even had a three-hit game before.  Texas won 9-2, as Giminez also caught Darvish for the first time in his career and did a solid job behind the plate.

All of that came on the same day the Rangers announced that Prince Fielder had opted to undergo season-ending neck surgery to have two discs fused in his neck, and 2B Jurickson Profar was likely gone for the rest of the year as well with a torn shoulder muscle.

Fielder was the prized acquisition by the Rangers in the offseason in the Ian Kinsler trade with Detroit. The funny thing about that is, according to the Dallas Morning News,  Fielder had mentioned to people in Detroit he had problems with neck pain when he was still in Motown. Yet, neither team asked for physicals for either player before the deal was made. Strange to say, the least.

A couple of more notes on Arencibia. Since he broke in with the Jays on that magnificent day on August 7, 2010 with two homers in that wild 17-11 victory over Tampa Bay, there are only eight players left from that roster still with the organization just 4 years later. The eight include Encarnacion, Bautista, Adam Lind, Brandon Morrow (who's on the DL), Casey Janssen, Brett Cecil and two pitchers stranded at Buffalo in Kyle Drabek and Ricky Romero. Talk about turnover!

Interesting too, that one of Arencibia's teammates at Round Rock is a Canadian -- 34 year old right hander Scott Richmond, who hails from BC. Richmond had a stint with the Blue Jays before Arencibia arrived.

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is drawing ever closer in his quest to become the franchise's number one hits man. He needs just 17 more to pass Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. 16 of the Phils' next 22 games are at Citizens Bank Park. The Phils have got to be hoping Rollins can reach the milestone in front of the home fans.



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