After playing for the Blue Jays from 1979 to 1984, Alfredo Griffin returned to the team for the 1992 World Series Championship season, with lackluster results. Nevertheless, the Blue Jays decided to re-sign Griffin to a one-year contract, 18 years ago today on January 8th, 1993.
Acquired by the Jays from the Cleveland Indians in a three player trade after the 1978 season, Griffin went on to win the 1979 Rookie of the Year award in what was the best season of his career.
Griffin was known more for his defense than offense, as he was not exactly gifted with the stick. His mustered just a .241 batting average and .593 OPS over the 1980 and 1984 seasons, along with going 55-for-112 (49.1%) in stolen base attempts. He had a good glove and was durable though; he averaged 146 games in his first 6 seasons with the Jays.
Griffin eventually drew criticism from some of the media around 1983 because there was a young, stud shortstop waiting in the wings at Triple-A Syracuse: Tony Fernandez. Griffin was well-liked by team management (GM Pat Gillick said he was worth “5 or 6 wins a year in the clubhouse”) and was popular among fans, but it was so hard to ignore what Griffin wasn’t doing statistically at the MLB level and how Fernandez was tearing it up at Triple-A.
The Jays finally decided to give Fernandez the starting SS job and ship Griffin out of town when they traded him to the Oakland Athletics in December 1984.
What was shocking was that Griffin was named an All-Star during that 1984 season.Griffin was ranked #1 in an article titled “The Worst All-Stars Ever”, and the author had this to say:
“He earns the top spot by managing to be named an All-Star in what was easily the worst season of his remarkably unremarkable career, managing to earn -2.3 WAR in just 449 PA. His first half was only moderately better, with a .241/.250/.317 line (60 OPS+). And, no, the .241/.248 above isn’t a typo — never a walk machine, Griffin hit rock-bottom in that area in ’84, walking just four times (plus 1 HBP) in his 140 games.”
When the Jays brought him back for the 1992 season, Griffin appeared in just 63 games and managed a .233/.273/.280 line with 10 RBI.
In 1993, the final season of his career, Griffin appeared in just 46 games and managed a career-low .211/.235/.242 slash line with 3 RBI, 3 walks, and 3 doubles.
Currently a first base coach for the Los Angeles Angels, Griffin will be remembered by Jays fans for his glove, personality, and determination.
He ranks 1st on the Blue Jays all-time list in sacrifice hits (74), 3rd in triples (50), 4th in caught stealing (74), and 8th in singles (654).