Blue Jays: Top-five greatest shortstops in franchise history

Toronto Blue Jays
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No. 3 Alfredo Griffin

In the early years of the Blue Jays franchise, there were two things that could be counted on: the team would be lousy, and Alfredo Griffin would be in the lineup.

Griffin was a consistent presence for the burgeoning franchise. He played in more than 150 games in four of his six years with the Blue Jays. Between 1981-83, he missed a total of five games out of a possible 430. He and Carlos Delgado are the only players in franchise history to play all 162 games in consecutive seasons.

Griffin wasn’t much of a threat at the plate. He hit just 24 home runs over his 18-year career that encompassed nearly 2,000 games; he had only 13 in 982 games in a Blue Jays uniform. His best year was his first in 1979. Griffin hit .348 over the final month of the season, finishing with a career-best .287 average and sharing the AL Rookie of the Year Award with John Castino of the Twins.

He did have some speed, leading the AL in triples in 1980 with 15. He’s the only player in Blue Jays franchise history with at least 10 triples in consecutive years. Griffin made his lone All-Star Game appearance in 1984 almost as an accident; he attended the game as a guest of teammate Damaso Garcia, who had made the AL team, before being asked to join the roster as an injury replacement.

The cold, windy conditions of Exhibition Stadium were far from where Griffin grew up in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic. But he had nothing but positive memories of his time in Toronto with a young, up-and-coming franchise.

“It was a great memory. The fans were growing with the team and there was excitement about the team in those young days,” he told the Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin in 2009. “I’m really very grateful. I thank those days I played and the opportunity I got. Everywhere I go fans still remember me. It’s a blessing and a privilege.”

Griffin was eventually supplanted as the Blue Jays shortstop by another San Pedro de Macoris native, Tony Fernández . After a few years with the Athletics and Dodgers, where he won a World Series title in 1988, he returned to Toronto in time for their back-to-back championships in 1992 and 1993.

Griffin was primarily used as a late-game defensive replacement in those postseasons, but he did have the best view of the most iconic moment in franchise history. He was on deck when Joe Carter hit his walk-off home run to win the 1993 World Series over the Phillies.