Best Ever Blue Jays Seasons
There are many different ways to measure greatness in baseball. At the team level, there’s one criterion that matters the most: Did you win the World Series? The Toronto Blue Jays have – twice, in 1992 and 1993. These are, by definition, the two best ever Blue Jays seasons in franchise history.
But which of those seasons was Toronto’s finest? And how do you rank their remaining years? Here at Bodog Sportsbook’s MLB betting, we’re using a combination of deep playoff runs and quality regular-season records to flesh out our top five; we begin with the most recent iteration of the Blue Jays, one that we hope will enjoy even more success now that they’ve added some key personnel to the roster.
It was only a matter of time. Toronto hit the motherlode with a pair of second-generation stars in Vladimir Guerrero Jr and Bo Bichette – Cavan Biggio made it a trio as they worked their way up the minors, but has fallen into something of a utility role since.
Assembling the right group of players around these stars has been the challenge, but president and CEO Mark Shapiro (with the help of GM Ross Atkins) has been up to the task; by 2022, the Jays had one of the best batting orders in the majors, and they really took off after replacing Charlie Montoyo with current manager John Schneider.
Unfortunately, Toronto’s pitching was so-so, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. They finished 92-70 to earn an American League Wild Card berth, then got swept in back-to-back games by the Seattle Mariners, prompting the latest wave of upgrades that will hopefully take them to the Promised Land. Can this current roster improve to force its way higher up on our best ever Blue Jays seasons list? Time will tell.
It didn’t take long for the Blue Jays to start making noise after their inaugural 1977 campaign. They were above .500 by 1983, and they made the playoffs for the first time in 1985 after winning 99 games – still the franchise record.
This team had almost everything you could ask for: strong hitting (George Bell, Jesse Barfield, Rance Mulliniks), quality relievers (especially up-and-coming closer Tom Henke), and a starting rotation anchored by peak Dave Stieb.
It wasn’t quite enough. The rotation was good, but not great, and Toronto fell in seven games to the Kansas City Royals after taking a 3-1 lead in the AL Championship Series. That was the last year for Bobby Cox as manager; he went on to bigger things in Atlanta, while the Jays wouldn’t make the playoffs again until Cito Gaston replaced Jimy Williams one month into the 1989 season.
While the 1985 Blue Jays had the best regular-season record in team history, the 2015 version that went 93-69 outperformed them based on run differential, finishing with a .628 Pythagorean Win-Loss percentage compared to .615.
This was definitely the better team on paper. The 2015 Jays had the best hitting in the majors, led by eventual MVP Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista in his last All-Star season, and Edwin Encarnacion as their designated masher. But Toronto’s pitching was disappointingly mediocre; RA Dickey couldn’t replicate his 2012 Cy Young season with the New York Mets, and David Price had another sub-standard postseason after arriving at the trade deadline.
Ah, those 2015 playoffs. The Jays experienced the high of defeating the Texas Rangers 3-2 in the AL Division Series (punctuated by Bautista’s famous bat flip), then the crushing low of losing the ALCS to Kansas City in six. GM Alex Anthopolous went to the Los Angeles Dodgers that offseason and made them champions; will Shapiro and Atkins get Toronto over the hump?
The greatest storybook ending in World Series history happened in 1993 when Joe Carter hit that three-run homer in Game 6 against the Philadelphia Phillies. It was only the second walk-off homer to win the title (Bill Mazeroski did it for the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates), and the first sayonara comeback, with the Jays down 6-5 at the time.
The 1993 Jays featured the same core that won the championship the previous year: position players Carter, Roberto Alomar, John Olerud and Devon White, along with starters Jack Morris, Juan Guzman and Todd Stottlemyre, and relievers Duane Ward, Mark Eichhorn and Mike Timlin.
But there were also some key newcomers that helped Toronto earn their second title. Paul Molitor and Rickey Henderson played important roles, as did Tony Fernandez in his return at shortstop. Dave Stewart also solidified the rotation, and was the starter for that magical Game 6 at the World Series.
Choosing between the two World Series teams is like choosing which of your children you love the most. So we’ll let the numbers decide our best ever Blue Jays season: The 1992 team finished with one more victory at 96-66, and their Pythagorean win percentage was one tick higher at .561 to .560.
There’s something to be said as well for winning the first championship in team history. The Jays had been knocking on the door for so long, losing to Oakland Athletics in the 1989 ALCS and the Minnesota Twins in the 1991 ALCS – both those opponents going on to win the World Series. Something had to be done.
There’s been plenty of debate about the impact Jack Morris had on this team. Morris was the World Series MVP for the 1991 Twins (as was Stewart for the 1989 A’s), but he was 37 years old when he signed with Toronto in the offseason, and while Morris led the majors with 21 wins, his 4.04 ERA wasn’t stellar.
There’s no denying what David Cone meant to the Blue Jays. They sent Jeff Kent (and Ryan Thompson) to the Mets at the trade deadline to acquire Cone; while Morris struggled in the playoffs, Cone, Guzman and Jimmy Key shone, as did relievers Ward and Henke. Sprinkle in the efforts of DH Dave Winfield, who drove in the Series-winning run in Game 6 versus Atlanta, and you have the greatest season in Jays history – at least thus far.