When it comes to the shortstops that have ever donned a Toronto Blue Jays jersey over their 47-year history, many notable names may come to mind. Whether it be the savvy Alfredo Griffin, to the slick Manuel Lee, along with fan favourite John McDonald, all the way to one of the game’s best at one time in Troy Tulowitzki, each and every one of them made their mark in one way or another with the team.
But if we were to rank the five best Jays shortstops of all-time based on FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), which takes into consideration their overall impact and contributions in all facets of the game, who would be able to make the distinguished list? Without further ado, let’s begin the elusive countdown.
#5 José Reyes (7.2 fWAR)
José Reyes will forever be remembered by the Jays’ faithful not for what he accomplished with the team, but for being a huge part in two of the club’s biggest trades in franchise history. The first one came back in 2012, when the Jays and Miami Marlins engaged in a huge blockbuster trade that saw Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifácio head to Toronto in exchange for Henderson Álvarez, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick, Jeff Mathis, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino. The deal was made because the Jays hoped it would finally elevate them back into strong contending status once again after several years of mediocrity. Well, they eventually met that goal, but not until a couple years later, so the trade didn’t not provide the immediate impact as expected.
The second one involved Reyes being sent away this time at the 2015 trade deadline along with Jeff Hoffman, Jesús Tinoco and Miguel Castro for superstar Troy Tulowitzki and LaTroy Hawkins. The all-in move by GM Alex Anthopoulos at the time ended up paying huge dividends as it provided the much-needed boost for the Jays down the stretch to help them make the postseason for the first time since 1993.
As a four-time All-Star and one-time Silver Slugger winner, Reyes was also one of the most prolific hitters and speedsters in the league prior to the trade to Toronto. He led the league in triples and stolen bases on multiple occasions, along with even capturing the batting title in 2011. However, the days in which he consistently posted elite speed and hitting numbers were behind him when he arrived in town. Nevertheless, he still managed to provide solid production over his two and a half years with the Jays by posting a .289 batting average, .738 OPS, along with 188 runs scored, 70 doubles, 4 triples, 23 home runs, 122 RBI and 61 stolen bases in 305 games played.
Had Reyes been hitting like his early days with the New York Mets, he surely would have found himself a lot higher on this list. But considering the fact that he was just “average” with respect to his standards during his Jays’ tenure while still making the number five spot on their all-time shortstops list speaks volumes of his utmost skills and abilities even when not at his best.