Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year from the Best Jays Team of the Decade

Something to remember as you read a dozen or so "another decade of failure" articles on the local nine. The 2006 Toronto Blue Jays were a great, great ball club. In terms of WAR, they were the best team in the league that year. Better than the Yankees and Tigers, Angels and World Series Champion Cardinals.

The Jays married one of the better offenses of the decade with strong but apparently not good enough pitching staff. The Jays added a few big bats and high-priced initials enthusiasts B.J. Ryan & A.J. Burnett before the season. This was the Jays going for it, and go for it they did. (Update: little mix up there. All better.) Consider a few things:
  • The Jays got 4 WAR of production out of the catcher position. Molina's .785 OPS is a career high, Zaun's 12 taters are his lifetime best.
  • Reed Johnson's career year in the plate and the field pushed him to a stunning 4.5 wins. His wRC+ of 130 is by far his high mark, same for his UZR of 15.
  • Troy Glaus hit 38 damn home runs and played in 153 games, including 8 at short!
  • Lyle Overbay, Frank Catalanatto, and Aaron Hill each chipped in more than 2 wins apiece.
  • BJ Ryan contributed 3 wins above replacement. For a reliever, that is astounding. Only Jonathon Broxton approached that level of production in 2009. This was the Beej we all knew and loved, he was at his best.
  • Roy Halladay put forth his ho-hum 6 wins, Burnett 3 and Lily 2 more. More to the point, the only negative contribution for the season came in the form of 130 innings of Chacin & Towers, who only combined for 0.6 WAR below replacement. Obviously terrible, but B.J. Ryan managed that all by himself in just 20 innings this year.
  • Lastly, some guy named Vernon Wells was a 5.8 WAR player. 3 runs above average MORE than Roy Halladay. According to UZR he was good in the field and of course dominant at the plate (.899 OPS, 32 home runs, 17 steals).
We should all take this into account when decrying his current contract, especially since 2006 was not his contract year. Please consider this list of 6 win centerfielders from 2009: Franklin Gutierrez, based solely on the strength of his defense. Wells had a much better track record and performed at an incredibly high level.

What happened to this 47.7 WAR juggernaut? They were 4 games out of first place on July 1st but went two games under .500 in July and 5 games under in August. The 17 games out of 27 they won in September were immaterial.

They weren't particularly awful in the clutch, they hit alright with men on base. They just didn't win enough games. A pity. But we should celebrate this fine team as we celebrate a new decade and new hope for the Jays! Happy New Year!

Update I dumped a few of the Jays better years into a spreadsheet if you want to see how they stack up. All data courtesy of Fangraphs.


  1. It's a damn shame because those 2006 Blue Jays deserved to make the playoffs, and in any other division they would have made it to the post-season.

    That picture of the Jays above reminds me - I saw a 2010 Blue Jays calendar a couple of days ago, and only 3 out of the 4 players on the front were traded this year! (Halladay, Rolen, Rios). Marketing FTW!

  2. Whoops. A few tiny errors cleaned up in the second paragraph.

  3. Let's just declare the Toronto Blue Jays be team of the decade. Period. It's over so who's gonna argue? Great read as always Drew, and a Happy New Year to you. See you next decade.

  4. Happy New Year, brother in blogs.

    2006 was indeed a great season. Looking at that picture, with certain faces mixed in, is pretty hard. I wrote an article for Batter's Box about how the pitching staff was in love with Roy Halladay (Chacin stole a shirt of Doc's because it smelled like victory. AJ drove to Doc's house, and sat outside. Lilly wanted to know if Doc thought he was filthy.) It more or less inspired my blog.

  5. Yep, pretty damn good team right there. So were the 2007 and 2008 teams, despite the awful injury luck, and bad luck in general.

  6. does anyone know who the fourth person on the bottom is?

  7. L-R: Chacin, Halladay, Ryan, Burnett, Lilly


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