Monday, April 17, 2017

Classic Toronto Blue Jays

Built around the 1992 and 1993 World Series Champions, the Classic Blue Jays have a good blend of hitting and pitching. Their star bats rest in the hands of John Olerud and Roberto Alomar, with Olerud earning an OB 11 by having the highest single season OBP of classic setter seasons! That was definitely not expected in a collection featuring so many Hall of Fame hitters, but Olerud always did have a discerning eye. Alomar is the best overall player on the team, with hero Joe Carter bringing a powerful 14-20 HR to bear in the middle of the order. The most modern of all the teams in the set, the Blue Jays may have the most recognizable names for a casual baseball fan, including MLB Showdown 00-01 stars like David Wells and David Cone. Even HOFer Rickey Henderson makes an appearance on this team! Enjoy these classic Canadian ballplayers, the 92-93 Blue Jays!

Lineup: Legendary leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson sets the table for the Classic Jays after helping the Blue Jays repeat as champions in 93. He's followed by longtime Blue Jay (and 00 Showdown holographic) SS Tony Fernandez, a solid number two hitter with blazing speed. Modern managers may prefer #3 hitter and all-around stud Roberto Alomar in the 2 hole. Alomar combines consistency with extra base pop and lots of speed, all wrapped up with a +5 arm at second base! Olerud is a great clean-up guy; perhaps he's short on power, but he's going to wrack up RBIs and doubles. Carter and Sprague will have low OBPs but deliver homers when they finally do get their charts. They should be most dangerous at the end of games, when teams have to use their low control relievers. Mandonado and Borders bring little to the table, but Devon White's intriguing chart and speed make him a really great #9 hitter. Expect Toronto to put up plenty of runs!

Rotation: The Jays have a very balanced rotation, bringing a steady diet of solid pitching out every night. Stieb takes the ball as the number one guy, but #4 starter David Cone could easily be the #1. Lacking a true ace is not an ideal situation, but there's really not a weak link on this rotation. Guzman is a big improvement on his "40 point" card in the original 00 set, and David Cone should be less frustrating than his foil that every Showdown purchaser is well aware of. Jimmy Key is a really good third starter and if these Control 4 guys keep their ERAs low (and Guzman avoids too many doubles), Toronto will contend in a Classic League!

Bullpen: Toronto's bullpen will lean heavily on Ward and Henke. Young David Wells will also play a role, but only over short bursts. The back end of the rotation is weak and should only be used in mop up or "we're already bleeding out" situations, unless it's an offensively inept team. Unfortunately, there are not many of those in the Classic Set, so expect Toronto to use as much Ward-Henke-Wells as they can and pitch guys 6 or 7 innings most nights. That said, Eichhorn's side-arm delivery led to one of my favorite looking cards in the set.

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