Jays Miscellanea looks back at a bunch of people you may or may not recall who played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Let’s remember some guys!


Here is a completely subjective top-ten list of the most boring MVP Award winners since the prize’s inception in 1931:


1. 1947 AL: Joe DiMaggio
2. 1974 NL: Steve Garvey
3. 1955 AL: Yogi Berra
4. 2006 AL: Justin Morneau
5. 1974 AL: Jeff Burroughs
6. 2002 AL: Miguel Tejada
7. 1987 AL: George Bell
8. 1931 NL: Frankie Frisch
9. 1950 AL: Phil Rizzuto
10. 1940 NL: Frank McCormick


(IMPORTANT NOTE: it’s wrong, but definitely not boring when a reliever wins an MVP award).


Check out name number five: Jeff Burroughs. 1974 AL MVP for the Texas Rangers, sixteen-year Major League veteran, and member of the 1985 AL East Champion Toronto Blue Jays. Before diving into Jeff Burroughs’ career, I think it would be fun to lay out the list of former MVP winners who have spent time with the Blue Jays, arranged by their career BRef WAR:


1. Roger Clemens (139.2)
2. Rickey Henderson (111.2)
3. Frank Thomas (73.8)
4. *Bonus: Vladimir Guerrero (59.5)

5. Jeff Kent (55.5)
6. Josh Donaldson (46.8)
7. Jose Canseco (42.4)
8. Dave Parker (40.1)
9. George Bell (20)
10. Jeff Burroughs (17.8)

*Vlad Sr. was signed by the Jays in 2012, but was never called onto the 40-man before he retired.


So, you may infer from all of this that Jeff Burroughs is kinda boring, and also not that great. Nice fodder for a post.


I believe, however, that boring, bad, or otherwise, the MVP Award is a big deal and, as such, the most valuable players who interact with your team should be celebrated. Lauded or vilified, the first nine names on the above list have received a great deal of critical attention. Not so for our pal Mr. Burroughs.


Aside from his promise as a first overall pick in the 1969 draft and his MVP season, Jeff Burroughs had a relatively nondescript career in the Major Leagues. He did play for sixteen seasons, which is an extraordinary accomplishment in its own right and a sign of his undeniable value as a big league player.


Burroughs made his Major League debut for the Washington Senators (second iteration) at nineteen years old. His manager was Ted Williams, who had steadfast belief in the youngster’s talent and potential. However, their relationship soured after Burroughs failed to produce consistently, and he was subsequently shuttled between the Majors and the Minors for his first three years. Burroughs finally got his shot to play a full season in 1973 for the now Texas Rangers, under new manager Whitey Herzog. He thrived in 1973, hitting for an OPS+ of 141, then going on to his MVP season the following year, slashing .301/.397/.504, for a 162 OPS+, and leading the league in RBI, which at the time was considered an important individual feat. His candidacy was surely aided by a hearty endorsement from Reggie Jackson, the reigning AL MVP. Burroughs was traded to Atlanta ahead of the 1977 season, and though many of his numbers dipped, his power surged. He hit a career-high 41 homers in 1977, and was named an All-Star for a second and final time in 1978. A sustained drop-off in overall production led to decreased playing time and continued feuding between Burroughs and his Atlanta manager Bobby Cox.


As a result, he was shipped to Seattle in 1981 for Carlos Diaz. That year, he paced the Mariners in most offensive categories before signing as a free agent with the Athletics in the off-season. Over three seasons in Oakland, Burroughs was shuttled between the starting lineup and pinch-hitting duties. Before the 1985 season, he was purchased by the Blue Jays and reunited with his nemesis, Toronto manager Bobby Cox. Cox quickly squashed their beef and supported Burroughs throughout the season. He was named the team’s primary designated hitter, slashing .257/.366/.429 for a 114 OPS+ over 227 plate appearances. The August acquisition of Cliff Johnson eventually pushed Burroughs to the bench, where he remained throughout Toronto’s ill-fated ALCS against the Royals. Cox gave him his only career playoff at-bat in the ninth-inning of the seventh game, resulting in a groundout to the pitcher. This would be his final Major League at-bat.


Burroughs’ sixteen-year career occupies a spot on the greatness spectrum somewhere between “serviceable” and “good.” He even said of himself, “I’m a pretty good ballplayer. Not a great player, but a good one.” But he owns the esteemed title of MVP, and that automatically elevates his name to a higher pantheon of ballplayers. As such, Burroughs’ brief stint with the Blue Jays should be celebrated as one of those rare instances during which baseball’s highest honour has passed through Toronto.