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Tony Fernandez—the greatest shortstop in Toronto Blue Jays history—has passed away at the age of 57. #BlueJays #RIPTony

@ToddStottlemyre My heart is so heavy at the loss of former teammate, friend, and Champion Tony Fernandez. My prayers go out to his wife and their entire family. I will never forget this man. He influenced my life in a positive way. He made everyone around him better. RIP my brother.

@BoomerWells33 I’m so sorry to hear about Tony Fernandez passing. A great teammate and friend. A pitchers dream to have him at shortstop when your pitching. One of the best ever. R.I.P. my friend.

@Plesac19 RIP for my former @BlueJays teammate Tony Fernandez ...remarkable player (5 time All Star - 4 Gold Gloves) ...kind, gentle giant of a man. Soft spoken and a true professional. Thoughts & prayers to his family and friends. @Gonz_A8 Very sad day! We lost a legend and one of the best teammates a player could have. RIP Tony Fernandez. @bruce_arthur Tony Fernandez was so smooth, so cool. One of those guys you remember watching your whole life. Rest in peace.

@MikeCormack RIP Tony Fernandez. So effing good and so effing fun to watch both at the plate & in the field. Carter & Molitor (deservedly) get most of the credit, but Tony also played a huge role in '93 WS win. Had 9 RBI & .423 OBP in the six games.

@JamesCybulski Another piece of my childhood is gone. Sad to hear about the passing of Tony Fernandez. Never got the full credit he deserved playing the same time as Cal Ripken Jr. but he was such a treat to watch. One of my all time favourite Blue Jays and won’t be forgotten.

@RobFai BLUE JAYS: Tony Fernandez was one of my true childhood heroes growing up in Toronto. A sad day in the baseball community having lost someone so respected both on and off the field. RIP Tony.

@peter_king RIP Tony Fernandez. Fielded shortstop like Ozzie Smith, just a beautiful fielder and accomplished spray-hitting guy, part of the best 1-through-4 of his day in San Diego: Fernandez, Gwynn, Sheffield, Crime Dog.

@DougGilmour93 Rest In Peace to Blue Jays Legend Tony Fernandez. Always such a professional and loved watching you play!

@fergieajenkins Very sad to learn of the passing of Blue Jays legend Tony Fernandez. Tony was a fellow member of the @CDNBaseballHOF and an all around Great guy. My thoughts and prayers are with the Fernandez family.

@JesseBarfield You will be greatly missed our dear brother! This is how I will remember Tony. Smooth as silk, graceful, giving, joyous, focused, and always someone you can count on not just in baseball but in life. Just an all around sincere person. Gone way too soon!!

@vancanadians We would like to express our sincere condolences to the Fernandez family. We will miss you, Tony. We are saddened to hear the passing of Tony Fernandez. As member of our 2015 Superstar Series, he was amazing with all our fans! Tony was a legend in every sense. 5x All-Star ⚾️ 4x Gold Glove Award winner 1993 World Series champion @BlueJays all-time hits leader

@BarryDavis_ I had the pleasure of getting to know Tony over the years. A truly wonderful person with a great sense of humour. Not to mention , the best shortstop the Jays ever had. RIP

@jparencibia9 One of the most kind and inspirational men I have ever been around. RIP Tony Fernandez. You will be missed but never forgotten.

@shawngreen15 So sad to hear about the passing of Tony Fernandez -my hitting and life mentor and awesome teammate. We referred to him as Yoda, the true master. Like Yoda, I know he will continue to shine on our world from the other side. All my prayers to his wonderful fam RIP Tony Fernandez. Deepest condolences to his family and friends.

RIP Tony Fernandez | 46 comments | Create New Account
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ISLAND BOY - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 07:11 AM EST (#385831) #
I was sorry to hear of Tony's passing. One of my favorite Blue Jays ever with that fluid grace at shortstop and wonderfully accurate side-armed throws to first base. He was a great contact hitter,too.
Mike Green - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 07:35 AM EST (#385833) #
I remember young Tony in 1985- quick, graceful and almost coltish as he raced to ground balls. His arrival was a sign that the club was ready, and what a run they had.

christaylor - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 07:45 AM EST (#385835) #
A really great ballplayer is gone, but certainly not forgotten.

As much as I cherish my pre-1991 and 93 return memories of him manning SS, what really stands out today is his 98-99 return. I took a break from following the Jays in 1994 (before spring training, nothing to do with the strike). A few years later I was in a falafel joint near U of T in Sept 98 and the game was on while I ate. Fernandez's return provided a natural hook that brought me back then watching Halladay's start, and Tony teaming up with an offensive with Delgado/Green in 99... and I've paid attention ever since... thanks Tony.
VictoryFaust - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 07:58 AM EST (#385836) #
Tony Fernandez was one of my childhood heroes. Watching him field with such effortless grace was a thing of beauty. I remember when he was first called up his nickname was “Glass,“ because he was said to be injury prone. He ended up being one of the most durable players the team has ever had. Great fielder, great hitter, great human being. This one hurts. He’s earned his wings and then some. RIP.
85bluejay - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 08:33 AM EST (#385838) #
RIP Tony - smooth and graceful - that first run with the Jays was truly great - when you got injured against Milwaukee in the final week of 1987, I knew the jays were in big trouble - Tony,Cal & Alan made for a golden age of SS in the then AL east in the 80's.
Gerry - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 09:03 AM EST (#385839) #
Agreed, Tony will be best remembered for his fielding, a gold glove winner on many occasions. His batting style was unique, he really stooped over the plate and often hit with a slashing style. He was one of the all time Blue Jays.
uglyone - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 10:30 AM EST (#385841) #
So, so much style....but every bit as much substance, if not more - both on and off the field.

RIP to maybe the most talismanic Blue Jay ever.
scottt - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 11:26 AM EST (#385843) #
Anyone with BP access has comments on PECOTA projection for this year?
John Northey - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 11:36 AM EST (#385844) #
Fernandez was fantastic to watch back in the 80's and I'll always wonder what if he had stayed here in Toronto after 1993.  IIRC his agent told him to reject the Jays 2 year offer and he ended up sitting until spring (back then if you didn't sign your free agents by January 8th they couldn't sign with you until May) and ended up in Cincinnati and played out of position as Barry Larkin was at SS there.  Also his bad injury in 1989 (hit by pitch in the head I think) and injured elbow in 1987 (bloody Tigers) both hurt his career at key points when he looked ready to move to another level.  Loved his comeback here near the end when he was hitting 400 near the All-Star break, but sadly he collapsed after that and ended up in Japan for the next season.  Was at his final game when he came in to pinch hit and got an infield single and they put him up on the level of excellence. 

One of my all-time favorite Jays.  So sad to see him go.  Hopefully his family was there to say goodbye.
JohnL - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 12:57 PM EST (#385845) #
So sad. I remember that several years ago, there was a thread here discussing who could be called "Mr. Blue Jay" (similar to Ernie Banks). Tony would be a great choice for the length of time (and number of times!), he played, as well as the quality & beauty of that play.

The images and memories that come to mind for me:

1985: the first year I really followed the Jays. I remember the second-last weekend of the season, in the pennant race against NYY, a number of fans at Yankee Stadium booed the Canadian anthem. Tony was captured on camera, in the locker room singing the words to O Canada.

1987: Second-last weekend again, pennant race again; I was at the game when he broke his elbow, which seemed an ominous sign. (And a few days later when Manuel Lee let the game-tying run get by him. An even more ominous sign.)

I was also puzzled why Fernandez left the team when he got out of hospital and went back to the DR. Wouldn't he want to stick by his teammates?

1989: watching him get hit in the head (after hitting a grand slam, I think.) I always wondered if that event and/or the broken elbow because of the poor turf design contribute to his apparent mood change. It seemed I rarely saw him smile again until he came back in 1993.

post-1992: I read Tom Cheek's memoir (worst-edited book I ever read!) He commented on Tony's withdrawal, noting he used to see Tony sitting *inside* his locker, reading his bible instead of mixing with teammates.

1993: What a return! When the trade was announced, a Star columnist dumped on it, saying Fernandez was the symbol of all that was wrong with the old Jays (the "attitude" issue.) First or second game, Tony got 5(I think) RBIs, and kept up hitting and driving them in. So glad he got his ring.

1996: He was unhappy that the Yankees moved him to 2B, thinking he shouldn't lose his job to a rookie. (*That* rookie.) And even worse, of course, he missed the whole year to injury, and potentially another WS win for him.

1997: My only memories of him that year were his 2 big playoff moments with Cleveland: the HR that won the ALCS, and his error that lost the WS.

1998 playing second, I have this image of ground balls getting by him, with him waving his glove in the general direction. The move to third was a good one.

1993,1999: Tony and/or his agent(s) misreading the market, or Jays' interest in giving him the contract he wanted, and he ended up suffering for it both times. (An unhappy stint at 3B in Cincinnati, and a year in Japan.

All in all, lots of good, lots of great, and a good helping of the not-good. An indelible part of Blue Jays history.
BlueMonday - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 12:58 PM EST (#385846) #
I remember watching a beer league baseball game while visiting the Domican Republic. Every shortstop threw sidearm to first base like Tony did. It felt like he inspired a generation.
AWeb - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 01:10 PM EST (#385847) #
I've never seen another fielder like him, with the side-arm, almost underarm throws, looping across the diamond to get runners just in time. As a kid it made no sense to me, and I don't think anyone I ever saw even tried to play it that way. The "used a milk-carton as a glove" legend (which happened to be true) was always a great tidbit. Seemed like a great man, sorry to hear he is gone. Condolences to his family and those that knew him.
Glevin - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 01:43 PM EST (#385848) #
One of the all-time great Jays and such a joy to watch. So fluid in the field, unique batting stance, huge smile. A huge part of baseball fandom for all of us of a certain age. Very sad.
Mylegacy - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 03:02 PM EST (#385849) #
Good bye Tony. You are missed. At least as long as I'm alive I can guarantee your memory lives on.

A few quickies:
- his flip throws to 1st. - his always getting hit on his skinny backside (it was quite amusing) - he was a two way star - his smile.

A bigger quickie: The Trade. (as my ancient organ formerly called my brain remembers it) First, it was a three for two trade. We got Carter, Alomar and Olerud for Tony and Fred (with Fred gone it opened 1st for Olerud). Secondly, I remember there being serious concerns that Tony was going to quit baseball and open a church. I suspect the team was afraid they might lose him for nothing.

Final personal message about Tony: If his god exists he just got a spectacular new addition to his forever team in heaven. If his god does, or does not, exist humans just lost a spectacular member of our team.
Vulg - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 06:03 PM EST (#385851) #
RIP to one of my all time favourites. Tony was right up there with Robbie in terms of pure enjoyment to watch. I lost track of how many times I made myself look foolish trying to emulate that flip throw as a kid.
Magpie - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 06:49 PM EST (#385852) #
watching him get hit in the head (after hitting a grand slam, I think.)

Fernandez had indeed hit a grand slam off Bobby Witt, way back in the second inning of a wild game in Arlington. The Rangers had rallied to take the lead and the the Jays tied the game at 9-9 in the seventh. Kelly Gruber led off the eighth with a homer to put the Jays ahead. Fernandez was the next batter, and Cecilio Guante hit him in the face with an 0-2 pitch. And yes, lots of us wondered about that at the time. Some people said "Guante's from the Dominican, too. He wouldn't have done that." As if everyone from the Dominican were all best buddies.

It was the Jays' fourth game of the young season. They went 7-14 while Fernandez was out, so the ice was cracking beneath Jimy Williams' feet by the time he came back.

What a strange, weird career he had. In his first full season at AAA, just 20 years old, he hit .302 at Syracuse. Which was not a good place to hit. So naturally the Jays sent him back to Syracuse, so Alfredo Griffin could take his .289 OnBase out to shortstop every day. Fernandez hit .300 in Syracuse again, and earned a September call-up. He was going to open with the team in 1984, but got hurt in spring training. And Alfredo was still around. They shared the shortstop job over the second half of the season, Griffin was traded away that off-season, and Fernandez finally had the job to himself in 1985. And for three years there, he was impossibly beautiful to watch. He had some very bad luck along the way, and he made some very unfortunate career decisions. He's not going to the Hall of Fame, but he was certainly a better player - a better hitter and a better shortstop - than Omar Vizquel.
John Northey - Sunday, February 16 2020 @ 08:02 PM EST (#385853) #
Magpie - excellent point about Fernandez vs Vizquel.  Was there any point in their careers any sane person would've traded them 1 for 1?  I'd say only at the very end of Fernandez' career.
In 1989 Vizquel made it to the majors at 22.  50 OPS+, just a glove nothing else.  Age 25 he had a 95 OPS+ , 29 a 98, the other 6 years in there were all sub 80, 4 of them sub 70.  Meanwhile from 1989 to 1996 Fernandez had a 96 OPS+.  1996 was the year Fernandez missed a full year, thus opening up the spot for Jeter.

1997/98/99 WAR's of 2.2, 2.8, 3.3 then the bizarre trip to Japan.  Those were 3 of Vizquel's best years - 3.5, 3.4, 6.0.

Fernanez's WAR was only negative his final season, when he was just a pinch hitter.  By coincidence that was also a negative WAR year for Vizquel.   Over the final 11 years VIzquel got he had a 14.1 WAR, 3 times negative, just 0.6 over his last 6 years (made $15 million for those years too).

So yeah, there was a time when you'd have done a 1 for 1 deal - Tony's final few years vs prime years for Vizquel.  Although that 98/99 time was a ton of fun - last half of 98 was 346/404/467, first half of 99 was 372/464/514.  Imagine if he had put those together in the same year, he would've got a lot of MVP votes then.
dan gordon - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 01:48 AM EST (#385856) #
That injury to Fernandez in late September 1987 probably cost the Jays the divisional championship and quite possibly the World Series. The Jays and Tigers had the 2 best records in baseball that year, and the Jays had a 3.5 game lead over Detroit with a week to go, but then Tony got hurt, Ernie Whitt was trying to play despite a bad injury which I believe was broken ribs, and there were 1 or 2 of the other hitters banged up as well. Tony was having his best overall season, and ended up 8th in MVP voting. As a result of the injuries, the team's offense dried up in that last week. Bell was having his MVP season, and with so many guys either out of the lineup or playing hurt, he started trying to do everything himself, and was swinging at almost every pitch and getting himself out. He went 4 for 32 in the last 7 games, and the Jays only scored 16 runs in those 7 games, and lost all of them. It was absolutely gut wrenching, and took me a long time to get over it.

They had already lost the championship series in 1985, a series they should have won after taking 3 of the 1st 4 games, and then they lost the championship series again in 1989 and 1991. It was extraordinarily frustrating. They could very well have won 2 or 3 World Series by the time they actually won it in 1992.

You could even throw in 1984, a year baseball fans remember for the Tigers running away with it early by starting the season 35-5, but the facts are somewhat different - the Jays almost caught them. On Jun 6th the Jays beat the Tigers for the 2nd game in a row to go to 36-17, dropping the Tigers to 39-13, bringing the Jays to just 3.5 games behind, well within striking distance, but that was as close as they could get. Those 1992 and 1993 World Series wins came after almost a decade of incredible disappointment and frustration. That was a great team for a very long time prior to the Series winning years.
ISLAND BOY - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 07:44 AM EST (#385857) #
" First it was a three for two trade. We got Carter, Alomar and Olerud for Tony and Fred."

I'm sorry to correct your memory, Mylegacy, but it was a straight two for two trade, Fernandez and McGriff for Alomar and Carter. John Olerud signed with the Jays out of college and never played a day in the minors. He and Fred McGriff were on the club at the same time and the trade opened up first base for him exclusively.
uglyone - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 09:39 AM EST (#385858) #

2B Alomar 1354pa, 139wrc+, 11.9fwar, 12.8bwar
OF Carter 1352pa, 114wrc+, 4.9fwar, 4.6bwar

1B McGriff 981pa, 150wrc+, 6.9war, 9.4bwar
SS Fernandez 1288pa, 99wrc+, 4.6fwar, 4.3bwar

for a sec there I thought we might have lost that trade, but nah Robbie made i worth it.
uglyone - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 09:42 AM EST (#385859) #
dammit those mcgriff stats are wrong.



2B Alomar 1354pa, 139wrc+, 11.9fwar, 12.8bwar
OF Carter 1352pa, 114wrc+, 4.9fwar, 4.6bwar

1B McGriff 1272pa, 153wrc+, 10.0war, 9.4bwar
SS Fernandez 1288pa, 99wrc+, 4.6fwar, 4.3bwar

hmm, pretty dang close actually. but robbie still pushes the jays side ahead i think.
whiterasta80 - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 09:44 AM EST (#385860) #
I believe that ML was speaking metaphorically rather than literally regarding the trade.

Very sad to see Tony pass, an inner circle Jays HOFer. There were few things more enjoyable to watch than a Tony Fernandez triple.

And I'm a fan of any player that can retire with a K% of less than 10.
whiterasta80 - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 10:04 AM EST (#385861) #
"Robbie pushes us just ahead..."

That Joe Carter guy might have been ok too.

Man this site is down on him right now.
85bluejay - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 10:14 AM EST (#385864) #
For me, whatever the statistics say - 3 straight divisions and 2 WS speak loud and clear and the Padres never made the playoffs with Fernandez & McGriff.
Chuck - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 10:27 AM EST (#385865) #
Tony Fernandez was indeed a joy to watch. And his passing is unnerving for personal reasons. He was born the day before I was.

I grew up playing shortstop and would continue to do so into my adult life, albeit slo-pitch by that time and no longer real baseball. And I intentionally wore the number 1, his number as a Jay.

As you age, one of the first things that rattles you as a sports fan is when you see a player retire after you have watched the entirety of his career. For me, that player was Guy LaFleur who started his career while I was a young boy. Start to finish, the whole career arc done.

The next thing that rattles you is when you see a player's life end after you have watched the entirety of his career. In Fernandez's case, he went 20-30 years too soon, but the effect is jarring nonetheless.

Everything I have discussed here is selfish, how his passing makes me feel about my own life. About the man himself, it says something when so many people have such nice things to say about him, not just about his acumen on the field, but his character as a man, a true marker of a life well-lived.

greenfrog - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 10:30 AM EST (#385866) #
People have rightly emphasized Fernandez's excellent fielding ability, but it should be noted that he was also a good-hitting shortstop (career wRC+ 102) who could steal a base (246 SB in his career).

Condolences to his family. His loss will be deeply felt by many.
John Northey - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 11:22 AM EST (#385868) #
Don't forget he once held the record for most hits in a season for a shortstop (set in 1986 with 213).  Jeter of course had 219 in 1999 to set the record I think (3 times over 213).  Sigh.

Over 5 in WAR twice, 3 more times in the 4's.  Just a great player in every respect.  Sad that 2 of the best Jays ever are now gone, and 3 whose entire career I watched (Halladay & Cerutti too). 
Lylemcr - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 11:49 AM EST (#385869) #
As a child of the 80's, I was always imitating him when I played infield. It was so effortless and yet so reliable.

He played the game beautifully. And for me, that is everything. Thank you.
electric carrot - Monday, February 17 2020 @ 05:35 PM EST (#385871) #
I liked watching Tony and I am sad he's gone. His passing is tragic. Also, as a fan he struck me as a unique character. This I find can be rare in top athletes for some reason, so I appreciate when it happens. I thought he had unique approach at the plate where somehow he gave the impression that he was moving and thinking with a focused, slow-burning intensity and he was seeing things in granular detail. And the glide and throw in the field felt unique and had a light-boned birdlike grace. You felt sure his bones were hollow. Hearing of his passing made me make a list of my favorite Jays at each position. Mostly, each had a kind of unique quality to them that made them stand-out either physically or via their personality. But it turns out this team would be pretty hard to beat also:

C Buck Martinez
1B Jose Bautista
2b Alfredo Griffin
SS Tony Fernandez
3b Garth Iorg/Rance Mullinicks
LF George Bell
CF Mookie Wilson
RF Jesse Barfield
DH Vlad

SP David Wells
RPs Duane Ward/Mark Eichhorn
Magpie - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 08:28 AM EST (#385875) #
this site is down on [Carter] right now.

It's the unfortunate memory of his final three seasons here, after he turned 35. He was a good player before he got old.

I do wonder if Carter would have been better if he came up today. He played in an era when RBIs were the be-all and end-all of a hitter's goodness. He hacked at a lot of pitches he probably shouldn't have because he thought that was his job, to try to drive in the runner.
uglyone - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 09:36 AM EST (#385876) #
I don't think we're down on Joe. I just think the reality is he might not even have been a top 10 player on those WS teams. At least its debatable.
Chuck - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 09:50 AM EST (#385877) #
What kind of world did we live in in 1992? Joe Carter finished 3rd in MVP voting -- with four 1st place votes -- mainly because of his RBIs. Ex-teammate George Bell got some down ballot votes for his RBIs despite a sub-zero WAR.
John Northey - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 10:03 AM EST (#385878) #
As good as Carter was in the big moments (last person to touch the ball in both 1992 and 1993), he was only a 'meh' player overall.

By WAR: 1993: Carter 2.0: players ahead of him Olerud, White, Alomar, Molitor, Fernandez (in just 94 games).  Pitchers ahead: Hentgen, Guzman, Ward.  So there are 8 guys by bWAR.  Relievers of note: Danny Cox was at 1.9, Mark Eichhorn 1.6.  Hitters: Rickey Henderson 0.5 in just 44 games (adjusted to 155 (as Carter played) that'd be 1.8.  Huh, Henderson really didn't do much here did he?

1992: Carter 2.5: players ahead Alomar, White, Winfield, Olerud, Manny Lee.  Tied with Maldanado while Jeff Kent in just 65 games had 1.3.  Pitchers ahead were Guzman, Key, Ward, Morris while Cone had 1.6 in just 8 games (adjust to 33 and you have 6.6).  So Carter was no better than 9 players, and might have been behind 3 more with adjustments for playing time factored in.

So yeah, outside of the big home run and RBI's Carter didn't bring much to the table.  But of course, you need to factor in that the backups were not great those years too - thus the Henderson trade.  Derek Bell had an 88 OPS+ in '92, Darnell Coles an 85 in 1993, Turner Ward in 93 just a 61 OPS+.  Those were the top backups in 92/93 for the OF.  Ugh.  So yeah, Carter really wasn't great those years, but was vital given the horrid quality of the backups.  For some reason the Jays just couldn't find much in the OF at that time.
uglyone - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 10:14 AM EST (#385879) #

wRC+ (just offense)

1. Winfield 140
2. Alomar 135
3. Maldonado 128
4. Olerud 127
5. Carter 120

position player WAR

1. Alomar 6.1
2. White 5.9
3. Winfield 3.8
4. Olerud 3.1
5. Carter 2.9

So the 5th best pure hitter and the 5th most valuable position player on that 1992 team. And then we need to factor in the pitchers, with all of Guzman, Cone, Morris, Key, Ward, and maybe Henke arguably as or more valuable than Joe.

1993 wrc+

1. Olerud 179
2. Molitor 144
3. Alomar 142
4. Fernandez 114
5. White 109
6. Carter 108

1993 war

1. Olerud 8.1
2. Alomar 5.7
3. White 5.4
4. Molitor 4.8
5. Fernandez 2.8
6. Carter 2.0

now you could move Carter ahead of Tony on both those lists because fernandez didn't play the full season, but still tha leaves Joe stuck at #5 again on both lists, again before looking at the pitchers.

fun to think of ways of optimizing those batting orders in retrospect.

1. Alomar
2. Olerud
3. Molitor/Winfield
4. Carter
5. White/Maldonado


1. White
2. Alomar
3. Olerud
4. Molitor/Winfield
5. Carter

Thomas - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 10:31 AM EST (#385880) #
My most vivid memories of Fernandez are from his 3rd and 4th stints with the Jays. He was fun to watch then, but obviously not close to the player he was in his prime, especially defensively. My memories of Fernandez in his prime are mostly drawn from highlight videos. Although those videos only show him at his best, he was a wonderful defender. And I have clear memories of his contribution in Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.

I hope the Jays do something fitting to honour him on Opening Day.

Thanks for the roundup of the tweets, #2JB. It's always nice to see a player's contemporaries reflect on what someone to them.
whiterasta80 - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 01:03 PM EST (#385883) #
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Joe was ever the best player on his team. But he did produce in the early part of his Toronto career. He also was the face of the franchise and I agree with what was said above that if he played today he would have adjusted to the playing environment.

All time favourite Jays team (this is fun)

C Pat Borders
1B Carlos Delgado
2b Roberto Alomar
SS Tony Batista
3b Ed Sprague
LF Reed Johnson
CF Devon White
RF Jose Cruz Jr.
DH Paul Molitor

SP Pat Hentgen
RPs Billy Koch (for about the first 150 innings of his career anyway). Otherwise Paul Quantrill
Chuck - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 02:13 PM EST (#385884) #
I do wonder if Carter would have been better if he came up today.

I'm curious why you think that. The league, and this team especially, is currently all about guys with Carter's OBP/SLG profile.

I understand that the RBI was the thing back in the day, but not everybody lived that philosophy. McGriff and Olerud both had detractors criticizing them for not being aggressive enough. They did not value the RBI above all else.

My instinct is that Carter was who he was and that sort of leopard doesn't often change its spots. His shtick just played better back in the day when RBIs were so over-valued, at least in the mainstream.

bpoz - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 02:47 PM EST (#385885) #
I love the rbi.

Gary Denbo: Runner on 3b none out. Strike out but that least the hitter was trying to hit the ball if he took some swings. Next batter walks, so he was not really trying to score the run. Next batter double play. At least he was trying to get a hit.

Nice BA and OBP but can't score. Cito came in and changed that.
Magpie - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 02:54 PM EST (#385886) #
I'm curious why you think that.

Mostly because he was a smart player who was always willing to do whatever his team needed him to do. So I wonder if he could have been steered in a somewhat different direction when he was a young player. Just a little - he was never going to walk 75 times in a season. But he need not have believed that a sac fly was always better than taking a walk, that it was his personal responsibility to drive in the run.

By the time he came to Toronto it was much too late, of course. He was 31 by then, his best years were already behind him, his skills had narrowed as they often do, and he'd long since become what he was going to be.
Magpie - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 03:59 PM EST (#385887) #
That said, Carter was an unusual hitter and as such there may have been no changing him no matter how young you got him. In some ways he resembles guys like George Bell or Vernon Wells - the same general species of hitter. But Carter as a rule was far more extreme in some of those characteristics. (And not as good, of course.)

For a HR hitter (top 10 in the league 7 times) Carter didn't strike out all that much. He cleared 100 Ks a few times, but he tops out at 114. He was batting almost 700 times a year and never taking a walk. But he was never among the league leaders, never made the top ten in Ks. Bell and Wells were similar in this respect.

But for a RH power hitter, Carter didn't hit into many double plays. He never even made into double figures until he was in his 30s and his season worst was 14. Bell and Wells both had seasons when they cleared 20 GDPs, and both hit into considerably more overall in shorter careers.

There's a reason for that. Carter basically never hit the ball on the ground. (It's the one thing he has in common with Cavan Biggio.) Wells and Bell were also much more likely to hit the ball in the air as well, but Carter's GB-FB ratio is extreme - roughly three balls in the air to every one on the ground.

And if you threw Carter a strike, he was absolutely going to swing at it. Oh my yes. Your average hitter during his career looked at a called strike 25.3% of the time. For Carter, it was just 14.9. (Wells and Bell are much closer to the league average.) Carter also hit an ungodly number of foul balls, far more than the average hitter. And he almost never struck out with the bat on his shoulder - just 8.7% of his strikeouts were looking at the third one. The average hitter was called out on strikes 27.5% of the time. (Bell and Wells both rest at the mid-point between Carter and the average hitter.)

The dude was a much stranger player than people realize!
GabrielSyme - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 06:39 PM EST (#385890) #
Magpie, that's fascinating about Carter, and illustrates why he was successful with such an odd where did you find the plate-discipline numbers for Joe Carter (and foul-ball numbers, if that wasn't from memory)?

Incidentally, Carter's home run swing reminds me a little of Hank Aaron's. Obviously a far less impressive player, but I wonder if he grew up modeling his swing on Aaron.
Magpie - Tuesday, February 18 2020 @ 08:42 PM EST (#385891) #
That stuff is all on his bb-ref page.
dan gordon - Wednesday, February 19 2020 @ 12:14 AM EST (#385893) #
Carter had 2 very good seasons, 1986 (5.8 WAR) and 1991 (4.7 WAR). Aside from those 2 seasons, his total WAR for his entire career was 9.1. His last 6 seasons, from 1993 through 1998, saw him produce a total of 0.2 WAR. His career dWAR was -15.7. A stat I have always liked is offensive win %, which is the win % a team would have with 9 batters exactly like this batter in the lineup, given average pitching and defense. Carter's was .514, so a little above a league average batter, to go along with the bad defense. As a batter, he made a LOT of outs, leading the NL in 1990 with 513. To me, Carter is a great example of the kind of player who was very overrated until the more modern stats came into popularity. The kind of player I overrated until I started reading the annual Bill James Abstract and saw the light.
Chuck - Wednesday, February 19 2020 @ 08:36 AM EST (#385896) #
The Joe Carter stuff was beaten to death on baseball forums at the end of his career, so very young posters may not be aware that Carter served as the poster boy for the old-school/new-school schism in player evaluation. In fact, there was a genuine concern that the BBWAA may actually consider him HoF-worthy so enamoured were they with RBI. This all seems laughable now, but this was reality 30 years ago.

I mentioned Carter's dubious 3rd place voting in the 1992 MVP voting. His year in SD, the year before Toronto acquired him, is even more egregious. He finished 17th thanks to 115 RBI. His slash line was 232/290/391. His overall WAR was -1.7 thanks largely to playing way too much CF, badly, at age 30.

Jevant - Wednesday, February 19 2020 @ 12:16 PM EST (#385898) #
Honestly, the bigger injustice in 1992 was Eckersley winning despite throwing 80 IP in the entire year.

Jack Morris finishing as the highest rated SP ahead of Roger Clemens is also patently absurd. Or Mussina.

That whole page is a goldmine of info.
Four Seamer - Wednesday, February 19 2020 @ 04:45 PM EST (#385904) #
I am awfully late to this, but my oh my, what memories I have of Tony Fernandez during each of his stints with the team. He was an enigmatic but extraordinarily elegant player, particularly in those first years, and possessed such a distinctive style that one couldn't help but study him. He was harder to get a sense of, in those days, but it was very apparent in his last two go-arounds with the club that he was a man of great conviction and character. He was a man in full, and those of us who were kids when he broke into the league were fortunate to grow into adulthood both as fans and as people with Tony as a guide. His career had a true arc to it, full of promise and early enthusiasm, injury setbacks, exile and return, ultimate triumph and additional adversity, reinventions defensively and at the plate, and finally a measure of redemption as a celebrated and central figure in the history of the team. It was a privilege to be in attendance at the Tony Fernandez Appreciation Day in 2001 (and I still have the t-shirt to prove it!), to pay my respects to a man who figured so prominently in so many formative memories, and who modeled faith, charity and perseverance. See you on the other side, Tony.
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