With 2020 coming to a close, the Blue Jays can look back at the year as taking some big strides. They also had news throughout the year, so sad, but a lot good and here is a look at some of the top stories from the 2020.
Tony Fernandez could be arguably known as Mr. Blue Jay. He played parts of 12 seasons in Toronto and is currently the leader in Games Played, Defensive WAR, Hits, Singles and Triples. On February 20, fans were devastated to learn that the Dominican Republic native had passed away from a stroke. Fernandez was just 57 years old and had come to the organization as a 16-year old in 1979.
Fernandez was everything you wanted in a baseball player, he was engaging, hardworking, an All-Star and always had a smile on his face. Fernandez in my opinion is the most underrated Short Stop in baseball history (albeit, I’m a little biased). The club wore #1 on their sleeve for the 2020 season in honor of Fernandez.
Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame
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In early February, John Olerud and Duane Ward were both inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Olerud played eight seasons in Toronto after being drafted in the third round of the 1989 MLB Draft. Olerud skipped playing in the minor leagues all together and went straight to Toronto.
He currently is the All-Time Blue Jays leader in On Base Percentage (.395) and won the AL Batting title in 1993 when he finished the season with a .363 BA.
Ward was originally drafted by the Atlanta Braves, but pitched all but 16 innings over his career for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ward combined with Tom Henke as one of the most lethal one-two punches to close out games in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1993, Ward became the Blue Jays full time closer and led the league with 45 saves while having a dazzling 2.13 ERA and was named to the AL All-Star Team.
Warren Spahn Award
In late December, Blue Jays Ace, Hyun Jin Ryu was awarded the Warren Spahn Award as Major League Baseball’s top left handed pitcher. Ryu became the first Blue Jay to win the award in team history and comes 21 seasons after the award was first introduced. The honours came at the end of a season where Ryu finished third in AL Cy Young award voting and helped lead the Blue Jays back to the Post Season.
Jack Graney Award
At the start of December, Blue Jays and Sportsnet’s play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman received the Jack Graney Award. The acknowledgement goes annually to the member of the media who made a significant contribution to baseball in Canada. Shulman is currently in his second stint in his role with the Blue Jays when he returned in 2016.
While 2020 was a very short season, Teoscar Hernandez did not take it easy as he hit 44 points higher than his career average as he finished the season with a .289 average while collecting 16 home runs and 34 RBI in just 50 games.
Hernandez received the Silver Slugger Award as the top hitting right fielder in the American League. Many are comparing his breakout season to that of Jose Bautista in 2010 as the two share the similar age when each broke out.
As we head into 2021, the question is will we see as much accolades as this past season. If the Blue Jays, who are rumoured to be in on a bunch of high profile free agents are able to sign those players the team can take a jump to the top of the AL East.