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Top 50 All-Time Greatest Jays: #22 Fred McGriff

Fred Stanley McGriff | 1B |1986-1990


Notable Accomplishments: Silver Slugger 1989

Fred McGriff (nicknamed Crime Dog, thanks Chris Berman) was born October 31, 1963 in Tampa, Florida. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 9th round of the 1981 amateur draft. A big power hitting, left handed, slugging first baseman he was clocked from playing for the Yankees by Don Mattingly. The Jays picked up McGriff, Dave Collins, Mike Morgan and cash for Dale Murray and Tom Dodd. Yeah, that trade worked out.

Fred was called up for three games in May of 1986. In 1987 he started the season with the team and slowly took over the DH role from Rance Mulliniks. He hit .247/.376/.505 with 20 homers and 60 walks in just 295 at bats, a pretty good rookie season. After the season Willie Upshaw was sold to the Indians to make room for Fred at first base.

McGriff's first full season as a first baseman was great, he hit .282/.376/.552 with 34 home runs and 79 walks, 100 runs and 82 RBI. He received MVP votes. He was second in the AL slugging % and 4th in the league in OPS, as well as 2nd in home runs. And he led AL first baseman in fielding average at .997.

Fred had an equally great season in 1989 going .269/.399/.525 with a league leading 36 homers and 2nd in the league with 119 walks. He was also 4th in the league in on base, 2nd in slugging average and 1st in OPS. He hit the first home run ever in Skydome June 5. Fred won the Silver Slugger award for best AL bat at first base and he came in 6th in the MVP vote, Robin Yount won the award, Jay teammate George Bell came 4th in voting. In 1989 the Jays came in first in the AL East but we lost out to the A's in 5 games. McGriff didn't have a good series hitting just .143 with no extra base hits and no walks.

In 1990 Fred had his third consecutive terrific season hitting .300/.400/.530 with 35 homers. Three seasons with 34, 36 and 35 home runs, can't ask for anything more consistent than that. He came in 10th in MVP voting. He finished 2nd in the league in on base and 4th in slugging average and homers.

McGriff was just an amazing first baseman for us, but the one little knock folks had on him was that he never drove in 100 runs for us despite hitting 35 home runs a year three years straight. One of those stupid things people say when they want to rag on someone but can't find a reason to. Mickey Mantle hit 30+ home runs 9 times but only drove in 100 in 3 of those seasons, though McGriff did hit for a poorer average with runners on base early in his career. On December 5, 1990 he was traded to the Padres with Tony Fernandez for Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar. After the trade McGriff drove in 100+ runs 8 times. Since we won two World Series in the 3 seasons after the trade, you'd have to say it worked out for us.

From San Diego Fred went to Atlanta for 4.5 seasons where he won a World Series ring. Then he played for Tampa Bay, the Cubs, the Dodgers and Tampa Bay again where he retired after a 19 year career and 493 home runs. His career hitting line is .284/.377/.509 in 2460 games. He has to be considered a Hall of Fame candidate. McGriff was 21st on Bill James list of top 100 first basemen. As he played 5 seasons after James put together the list, he likely would be up a few spots from that now.

Fred is married and has 2 children Erick and Ericka. He works in the Rays' front office. He possibly could be a few spots higher on our list, but he really only had the three amazing seasons with the Jays and one good part season. Power, a good batting eye and a good average, he was a stats guy's dream.

Fred McGriff's play among Jay hitting leaders:

Batting Average (>2000 PA) 13th .278
On Base % (>2000 PA) 3rd .389
Slugging Average (>2000 PA) 2nd .530
OPS (>2000 PA) 2nd .919
Games 29th 578
Runs 24th 348
Home Runs 8th 125
RBI 21st 305
Walks 8th 352
Runs Created 15th 418