The best Blue Jay ever: two Star writers slug it out

The best Blue Jay ever: two Star writers slug it out

Left to right: Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Dave Stieb, Carlos Delgado

The best thing about sports journalism may be that verbosity is not just acceptable, it’s encouraged. This is especially true in that great—and greatly inane—tradition of speculating on who is the greatest ________ of all time. Nobody can ever decide who exactly the greatest ___________ of all-time is, of course, but posing the question always seems more important than finding an answer. Two long-time baseball columnists at the Toronto Star proved this over the weekend as they attempted to answer the question “Who is the greatest Blue Jay in the franchise’s 34-year history?”

Is it former MVP George Bell? Or maybe Cy Young winner Roy Halladay? Even Roger Clemens?

None of the above, says the Star. Dave Perkins argues for Dave Stieb, the crotch-grabbing ace from the halcyon days of the 1980s. Richard Griffin votes for beloved slugger Carlos Delgado. The paper’s readers spoke, too, giving Halladay a decisive minority with 27 per cent of the vote (though Rance Mulliniks gets points for the size of his Adam’s apple).

Perkins opts for Stieb because he “sure could pitch” and, quite simply, “Stieb was the man.” The often surly right-hander may never have won a Cy Young, but he probably should have taken home at least one, if not two. He also chucked 800 more innings than Halladay, and given Perkins’ proclivity for pitchers, that seems to seal the deal.

Griffin’s argument is a touch more convincing, claiming that Delgado was an above-average defender with a massive history of service with the Jays (11 years) that must be honoured. Extra kudos go to his offensive record:

In 12 combined seasons with the Jays, Delgado hit .282, with 690 extra-base hits, 336 home runs, 1,058 RBIs and a .949 OPS in 1,423 games. Among all-time Jays, the charismatic Puerto Rican leads the franchise in multiple categories. Delgado ranks first in slugging percentage (.556), OPS, plate appearances (6,018), runs scored (889), total bases (2,786), doubles (343), home runs (336), runs batted in, bases on balls (827), extra-base hits, times on base (2,362), hit-by-pitch (122) and intentional walks (128). The only disturbing thing is that he was unable to lead his team to the post-season.

For our money, we like the popular choice. Stieb was good, Delgado was better, but, clearly, Halladay is the best. Why? It’s impossible to know! But it sure is fun to pronounce on something so grand, eh, boys?

• Perkins: The greatest Blue Jay [Toronto Star]
• Griffin: The greatest Blue Jay [Toronto Star]

(Images: Roger Clemens, tonystl; Roy Halliday, Keith Allison; Dave Stieb, Robert Taylor; Carlos Delgado, Rafael Amado Deras)