#1 Tony Fernández (35.1 fWAR)
Prior to the arrival of Bichette, if any diehard fan were ever asked who the best Jays shortstop ever was, without a question the first name to pop up would be none other than the late Tony Fernández. From the way he played and approached the game, Fernández truly defined what a prototypical major league shortstop should be like. A master of slick, finesse, accurate throws in the field like a work of art, along with a consistent sweet short swing hitting from both sides of the plate, there was no other player that played the game the way he did.
The five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner was so good that the Jays actually had him for four overall stints with the club. His first tenure was where his elusive career all began between 1983 to 1990, then he was back for one year in 1993, then for another couple in 1998-99, and finally in 2001 to finish off his career. Over his 12 years with the team, he batted .297 with a .765 OPS, 106 OPS+, along with 704 runs scored, 291 doubles, 72 triples, 60 home runs, 613 RBI, 172 stolen bases, 439 walks and 493 strikeouts. From the bigger picture, Fernández is also the Jays’ overall franchise leader in games played with 1450, hits with 1583 and triples with 72, along with ranking in the top five in runs scored, doubles, stolen bases, and career batting average.
Even when Fernández wasn’t a part of the Jays, he was helping the team as well when he, along with Fred McGriff, were traded in a blockbuster to the San Diego Padres for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter back during that unforgettable 1990 offseason. If it wasn’t for Fernández’s pedigree in both his hitting and defensive prowess, the Jays would not have net such a key assets that ultimately led them to their two successful championship runs in 1992 and 1993. More deservingly, he was re-acquired by the Jays during their 1993 run to enable him to finally be an integral part of the team’s success after spending multiple gruelling seasons in the 1980s with the developing ballclub.
His tremendous achievements with the team spread over two decades have been recognized and put in its rightful place on the Jays’ Level of Excellence at Rogers Centre. He may be passed by Bichette one day on the all-time list, but in the hearts of many long-time devoted fans everywhere, Fernández will always be one of the best ever to wear a Jays’ uniform.