Blue Jays all-time best starting lineup based on WAR

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages
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Shortstop: Tony Fernandez, 35.1 fWAR

The sharp-hitting and slick-fielding Tony Fernandez leads the pack of the best Toronto Blue Jays shortstops with a 35.1 fWAR, which ranks him second among all position players.

Signed by the Blue Jays out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year-old, Fernandez made his major league debut at the end of the 1983 season and became a big part of the team's success in the 1980s.

Fernandez took over the full-time shortstop job in 1985, playing 161 games and helping the Jays to the team's first postseason berth. He remained a fixture at short for the rest of the decade, going to three All-Star games and winning four Gold Gloves. He garnered MVP votes in each season from 1986 to 1989.

He was traded to the San Diego Padres in the Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar deal, but Jays reacquired him from the New York Mets during the 1993 season. He played 94 games in Toronto that season, and after doing so much to help the franchise grow into a perennial contender, he got to reap the rewards by helping win the second of the back-to-back World Series titles.

He returned to Toronto again for the 1998 and 1999 seasons and turned back the clock. He had two of the best offensive seasons of his career in front of a new generation of fans and earned his fifth career All-Star nod in 1999, in his age-37 season.

Fernandez was a joy to watch patrolling the infield. He played 1,450 games in Toronto, by far the most of any shortstop in team history. He still sits atop the leaderboard in hits (1583), doubles (291), triples (72), runs (704), RBI (613), stolen bases (172) and walks. He finished his Blue Jays career with an impressive .297/.353/.412 slash line.

The fan favorite returned to the Jays once more when he signed as a free agent partway through the 2001 season. He found his swing again in a Blue Jays uniform, hitting .305 over 48 games, and fittingly finished his career where it all began, taking his place on the Level of Excellence before the end of that season.

Sadly, Fernandez passed away in 2020.

Next: The top left fielder was the first Blue Jay to win an MVP