After looking at second basemen yesterday, we move over to the other side of the bag with today’s edition, picking your favourite shortstop in team history.
Just a little clarity on the picks here - there are 11 players over 43 seasons to accumulate at least 1000 plate appearances that come up as SS. Six are featured here, two will show up on the utility list - Ryan Goins and Manuel Lee, while Tony Batista won’t feature on the SS list or the 3B list, but is certainly eligible for either one. Jose Reyes and Yunel Escobar are the other two, but with the list being complete without them, I had no problem keeping them off.
Alredo Griffin (1979-1984, 1992-1993)
Griffin burst onto the scene in 1979, picking up the Rookie of Year award, the first of two Blue Jays in history to do so. His season as a regular in 1984 with Toronto saw him pick up an All Star Game nod, which has an interesting story in itself. He was a guest of Damaso Garcia at the game, and when Alan Trammell was removed from the roster at the last minute, Garcia was added since he was there. Right place, right time.
He was traded prior to the 1985 season for Bill Caudill, but came back on Free Agent deals for both World Series wins as a bench player. Overall, he hit .249/.280/.327 over 3655 career plate appearances for the Jays. He stole 79 bases with the team, but was caught on 74 other occasions, easily the worst SB% of any Blue Jays with at least 30 successful attempts. He also holds the distinction of having the worst fWAR in team history at -3.2, although he did it in a lot more games the other names around him, like Dave McKay and Carlos Garcia.
Tony Fernandez (1983-1990, 1993, 1998-1999, 2001)
Perhaps one of the easiest choices in our whole exercise here, the great Tony Fernandez had four different stints with the Blue Jays. He is the all time hits leader in Blue Jays history, and picked up 4 Gold Gloves at shortstop, the only shortstop to earn the award for the Blue Jays. He also made it back in time for the second half of 1993, and earned a World Series ring.
There were many great words written about Fernandez a couple months ago, when he unfortunately lost his battle with kidney problems. Here is a story by Sportsnet, complete with a video tribute narrated by Jerry Howarth, but I do encourage you to do a google search of the many other great stories out there about him. I will present you with a short video of some highlights of his as well, even if the quality isn’t the greatest.
Alex Gonzalez (1994-2001)
The first Alex Gonzalez in Blue Jays’ history celebrated his 47th birthday yesterday, and Tom had a bit of a write up on him. He was drafted in the 13th round of the 1991 draft, and rose through the ranks of the Blue Jays’ system, topping out at number 4 on Baseball America’s top 100 prospects across all of baseball in 1994.
In parts of 8 seasons, he hit .245/.304/.386. His 8.0 fWAR is second for Blue Jays shortstops, incredibly far back of Tony’s 35.1, and just barely ahead of Marco Scutaro’s 7.3. Only once in his Blue Jays’ career did he lead the league in any stat, and that was sacrifice bunts in 2000. I all of a sudden have an inkling to go search out Jim Fregosi and yell at him.
Chris Woodward (1999-2004)
Woodward spent his first couple years bouncing around between the Majors and Minors, and around the diamond as well. He took over as the full time shortstop in 2002, when he had the best season of his career. He hit .276/.330/.468 with career highs of 13 home runs and 3 stolen bases. His 105 wRC+ also marked his only above average year, and he contributed 2.3 WAR that year.
Marco Scutaro (2008-2009)
Scutaro came over to the Jays after a few mediocre years in Oakland. His two seasons in Toronto yielded his two best seasons of his career, and two of the best non-Fernandez seasons by a Blue Jays’ shortstop. He hit .275/.362/.384, good for a 101 wRC+, and coupled with great defense gave him a 7.3 fWAR and 9.8 bWAR in his short time here. The Blue Jays’ parlayed his departure into the 2010 draft pick that netted the Blue Jays Aaron Sanchez, so there’s that bonus as well.
John McDonald (2005-2011)
McDonald spent parts of 7 years with the Blue Jays, and while he never went into a season with a starting job securely his, he frequently had stretches of these seasons that he ended with him getting a lot of starts. His 2007 season was his busiest, getting in to parts of 123 games, with 93 starts at SS. He had 23 DRS in 799 innings that season, the third most at any position for a Blue Jay since 2002 (the first year of DRS), in fewer innings than Aaron Hill and Orlando Hudson’s best years.
If you wanted to know what that looked like, here is 17 minutes of Johnny Mac highlights from 2007.
Of course, one of the most memorable moments of McDonald’s career came on Father’s Day 2010, 5 days after the death of his father. It is arguably the best regular season home run in Blue Jays’ history, despite it being a 2-run shot down 9-3 in the bottom of the 9th in the middle of June in yet another lost year. Here’s the video, but you’ll need to find your own tissues.
Who was your favourite shortstop in Blue Jays’ history?
This poll is closed
Someone else (tell us in the comments)