Blue Jays 1992 vs 2007 (Part 7 of 10)

Designated Hitter:

Dave Winfield spent only one
season in Toronto but he had a profound impact on the lineup, in the clubhouse and in the media,
as he encouraged traditionally-sedate Jays’ fans to be more vocal in support of
the team. In 1992, after coming over from the California Angels for ‘measly’ $2.3 million
as a free agent, Winfield hit .290 .377 .491. He added 26 homers and 108 RBI at
the age of 40, while walking 82 times and striking out only 89 times. Winfield
won his first World Series – in his 19th MLB season – and appeared in the post
season for the first time since 1981 with the New York Yankees (They lost to
the Dodgers). In 1992, he played 130 games at designated hitter and 26 games in
the outfield, where he did not commit in error while making 52 putouts.
Winfield batted clean-up the majority of the time, sandwiched between Joe
Carter and John Olerud. He was only the ninth highest paid player on the Jays
that year, but Winfield’s impact in the clubhouse was a huge difference maker
in turning a group of talent, young ballplayers into World Champions.

Frank Thomas is somewhat similar
to Winfield because he is a prodigious slugger, who is nearing the end of an
illustrious career. Thomas’ track record of being a good clubhouse guy has been
marred by some tough years in Chicago, but by most accounts he had a very positive impact in the Oakland clubhouse in 2006. After battling
injuries for a number of years, Thomas, 39, put up impressive numbers last
season and hit .270 .381 .545 with 39 homers and 114 RBI. The Jays took a huge
gamble by giving him a two-year, $18 million contract. He doesn’t run well at
all, but Thomas walked 81 times last season, while also striking out 81 times.
He has walked more than 100 times on 10 occasions in his 17 year big league
career, including eight straight years from 1991-1998. Thomas will serve as
insurance in the lineup for Vernon Wells, which should have a positive impact
on the Jays’ highest paid player. In turn, Troy Glaus will offer Thomas
excellent protection.

Edge: Dave Winfield (1992 – for his durability and clubhouse presence)


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