Blue Jays Top 5 First Basemen of All Time
Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
2. Fred McGriff
The Yankees drafted Fred McGriff in 1981. Before realizing his potential, they traded him to the Blue Jays in 1982 with Dave Collins and Mike Morgan in exchange for Tom Dodd and Dale Murray. Toronto got the upper hand of the deal both in the short and long term. Dodd never played a game for the Yankees and Murray was ineffective whereas Collins paid immediate dividends. The Blue Jays could not have fully imagined that the much greater value from the trade was honing his game in A ball at the time. McGriff made his debut with a cup of coffee in 1986.
Fred played the next four years in Toronto and was their best player over that span. His finest season as a Jay was 1989 when he lead the league in home runs (36), OPS (.924) and posted a 6.6 WAR. McGriff averaged a .919 OPS over his Jays career. Defensively, McGriff was below average with a -2.4 dWAR as a Jay. His defence became more of a liability as his career went on but it was never so much a problem as to warrant spending significant time as a DH.
McGriff’s best years were played in Toronto but he continued to hit very well and played 14 more seasons elsewhere. Prior to the 1991 season, Pat Gillick made the gutsy call to deal his team’s best player. It wasn’t the most one sided trade in Jays history, but it was perhaps the most important. Off went McGriff and Tony Fernandez to San Diego and in came Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar. McGriff played for the Padres, Braves, Rays, Cubs, Dodgers and the Rays again before retiring after the 2004 season. McGriff is currently a baseball operations assistant for the Braves. He received 12.9% on the most recent Hall of Fame ballot.
Among Blue Jays’ first basemen all-time he ranks 3rd in WAR, 2nd in home runs, 1st in BB%, 2nd in SLG%, 1st in wRC+ and 2nd in offensive runs
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