One of my favourite people to follow on Twitter is Jesse Barfield (@JesseBarfield29), who for years made-up 1/3 of the legendary Blue Jays outfield that included himself, George Bell, and Lloyd Moseby. The other day Barfield tweeted a photo that included all three of those players jerseys, and it got me thinking, over the 40+ year history of Blue Jays baseball, what have been their best outfields? On that note, here’s my list of the Top 5 outfields in Blue Jays history.
This was a tough one, because this outfield could have easily placed much higher on the list had they just got a little more production out of their centerfielder, Jose Cruz. Although in 1999 Cruz was still a year shy of playing what would be his best baseball, both Green and Stewart were most certainly on top of their games. Unfortunately, 1999 would also be Green’s last season in a Blue Jays uniform. Had he stayed on a few more years, it’s crazy to think what an outfield comprised of Shannon Stewart, Vernon Wells, and Shawn Green would have looked like.
For years, Jose Bautista carried the Blue Jays outfield pretty much on his own. Then in 2015 he got some pretty good help with the emergence of Kevin Pillar, followed by the trade deadline acquisition of Ben Revere. Although these three players were only together for a little over two months, in that short time they played some of the best outfield the Blue Jays had seen in years. It was enjoyable to watch two speedy players like Pillar and Revere run down almost everything, and Bautista have what was likely his last great season.
The 1992 outfield was solid at every position, but what they had that no other outfield on this list could boast of was Devon White in centerfield. Players like Vernon Wells and Kevin Pillar are no slouches when it comes to playing center, but White and his 7 career gold gloves is the finest fielding outfielder the Blue Jays ever had. During Toronto’s glory years of the early 1990’s, it can’t be overstated how important White’s defense was when it came to the success of all those great teams.
Incredibly, Reed Johnson (.319), Vernon Wells (.303), and Alex Rios (.302) each hit over .300 in 2006. To top it off, Toronto’s 4th outfielder that season, Frank Catalanotto also hit .300. Imagine that, four outfielders on one team each hitting .300 or more in the same year. This kind of accomplishment is even harder to believe when you consider that out of all Toronto’s starting position players in 2017, their highest player only had a .270 AVG.
The outfield of Johnson/Wells/Rios could do a lot more than hit for AVG though. Of all Toronto’s position players in 2006, Wells, Johnson, and Rios would finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). When on top of his game, something he certainly was in 2006, Wells was arguably the best all-around outfielder that ever played for the Blue Jays.
#1 (1985-1987) George Bell (LF), Lloyd Moseby (CF), Jesse Barfield (RF)
Although George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield played together for more than just 1985-1987, those were by far their best years in the same outfield. Trying to pick the best season these three had together is a difficult thing. This outfield was so good, that if we were to split up their best years (1985-1987) for the purposes of this list, their 1986 and 1987 seasons would occupy the top two places on this list.
You name it, this outfield had it, whether it be an MVP, All-Star game appearances, gold gloves, and even one of the best outfield arms the game has ever seen. Bell/Moseby/Barfield often don’t get the credit they deserve having played in the early days of the Blue Jays franchise. What can’t be forgotten was that they were far and away the greatest outfield to ever play for the Blue Jays, and it’ll be a long time before Toronto has three outfielders playing at the same time who were as good as these three.