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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Blue Jays legend Fernandez dies at 57

The baseball world lost a legend Saturday night.

Long-time Toronto Blue Jays infielder Tony Fernandez has died at age 57.

Earlier this month, Fernandez was in critical condition with a kidney disease. He had been battling kidney issues for several years. He was first hospitalized with polycystic kidney disease in 2017.

The Mayo Clinic’s website describes the disease as an inherited disorder where cyst clusters cause the kidneys to enlarge and lose function over time.

 

QLE Posted: February 16, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 19 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: obituaries, rip, tony fernandez

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   1. Sweatpants Posted: February 16, 2020 at 01:22 AM (#5924702)
I always respected how he reinvented himself as an old player, doing the best hitting of his life after he turned 35, including a strong year in Japan. In a way he was the Blue Jays' Rickey Henderson, as he had four different stints with them and joined the 1993 championship club in mid-season.

R.I.P.
   2. Scott Lange Posted: February 16, 2020 at 09:27 AM (#5924707)
I was a member of the Riverdale T-Ball Blue Jays, so to the extent I cared about anyone in the American League, I rooted for Toronto. Willie Upshaw, Ernie Whitt, Dave Stieb, etc were all favorites, but Tony Fernandez stood apart. Slick fielder, surprisingly good bat, long career, and some post-season heroics too. He had 9 RBIs to lead the Jays to the 1993 World Series, and an epic 11th inning home run to win the 1997 pennant for Cleveland. Quite a player, and by all accounts, quite a person. He'll be missed.
   3. Jose Is Absurdly Chatty Posted: February 16, 2020 at 09:47 AM (#5924709)
That’s awful. During the 80s the Red Sox and Blue Jays had a bit of a rivalry at the top of the division. Despite that I always liked Fernandez. He was an exciting player who really seemed to be good at everything.
   4. asinwreck Posted: February 16, 2020 at 10:05 AM (#5924711)
It's been almost 30 years, but that Padres-Blue Jays trade is still one of the most exciting challenge deals I can remember. It came on the heels of Fernandez leading the AL in triples with 17 (to tie this thread in with the one on Curtis Granderson's retirement).
   5. Adam Starblind Posted: February 16, 2020 at 10:08 AM (#5924713)
I was very excited when the Mets traded for him before the 1993 season, but LOLMets, yada yada yada, by the end of the season he's back on the Blue Jays to win the World Series.
   6. Rally Posted: February 16, 2020 at 10:12 AM (#5924714)
I remember rooting for him as a minor leaguer. I lived in Syracuse in 1984, and saw a few Chief games. Looks like Tony was there April and May, then up to the big leagues. I don’t remember which games I saw or if he was in the lineup. I definitely followed his numbers. Prospect following was not a big thing back then, but Tony was no ordinary prospect. He was well hyped years in advance, to the point that when he finally got to play in the big leagues you might have forgotten him.

In retrospect, he should have been a starting shortstop 2, 2.5 years earlier than he was. He reached AAA at 19, then played fulltime there for the 1982 and 1983 seasons. Why? Because Alfredo Griffin combined Ripken like durability with below replacement play. He played all 162 games each year. Griffin had a good rookie year in 1979, but was at or below replacement for the next 5 years. Obviously bait should have been cut sooner, but what’s done is done.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 16, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5924717)
R.I.P.
   8. puck Posted: February 16, 2020 at 12:12 PM (#5924733)
Because Alfredo Griffin combined Ripken like durability with below replacement play. He played all 162 games each year. Griffin had a good rookie year in 1979, but was at or below replacement for the next 5 years.


Griffin must have had some hellacious intangibles. His popularity went beyond fielding, and Fernandez seemed like a great fielder himself. Did Griffin ever become a coach? He was seen as a big part of the 88 Dodgers, he of course couldn't hit there either.

Very sad about Fernandez. 57 is very young.
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: February 16, 2020 at 01:45 PM (#5924743)
Did Griffin ever become a coach? He was seen as a big part of the 88 Dodgers, he of course couldn't hit there either.
Speaking of the '88 Dodgers, Griffin was the Angels' 1B coach for all of Mike Scioscia's 19 years as manager.
   10. Snowboy Posted: February 16, 2020 at 02:18 PM (#5924746)
The sad-sack Toronto Blue Jays started in 1977 with nothing. And they sucked.
They were one of the pioneers in plumbing the international market, setting up scouts and recruitment in the Dominican Republic. Tony Fernandez was one of the results. He was from San Pedro de Macoris, a town/city of 150,000 that has now produced almost 100 MLB players, and has been called "The Cradle of Shortstops" because of guys like Tony, and those who tried to follow and emulate him.

After a bad start and many bad years, the Blue Jays eventually improved, and allowing Fernandez to replace Alfredo Griffin was a key move. An iconic moment - winning the 1985 American League East division - came when LF George Bell caught a dying quail and the team rushed the field. You would have to look really hard to find a photo of that catch which didn't also have "Fernandez #1" in it, chasing out to hug his teammate and countryman.

Tony Fernandez was a really good shortstop. I guess it's just anecdotal, but he had one of the best arms I've ever seen at the position. He won 4 Gold Gloves with the Blue Jays, then was in that amazing trade with San Diego: Fernandez and Fred McGriff to SD, for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter.

He somehow ended up back in Toronto when they were the defending World Series champions, and he led the 1993 team in WS RBI. He played for seven teams, but is the Jays all-time leader in games played, and has his name hung in the "Level of Excellence" at SkyDome.

RIP Tony Fernandez
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 16, 2020 at 02:35 PM (#5924747)
Pretty good player - 17 MLB seasons is no small accomplishment. Famous for his fortuitous lost 1996 injury season that smoothed the entry of Derek Jeter, although Fernandez did go on to put up an 112 OPS+ in the remaining 5 years of his career.
He won 3 Gold Gloves with the Blue Jays . . .
BB-Ref say 4 GG (1986-89).
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 16, 2020 at 02:40 PM (#5924749)
Underrated player and a real treat to watch. Loved how he threw - it seemed effortless.
   13. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: February 16, 2020 at 03:18 PM (#5924753)
In the '88 Abstract, Bill James wrote about the concept of Baseball IQ and remarked that Alfredo Griffin had to have one of the lowest BIQ's in the game.

-- Dreadful OBP's that never showed any growth over his career. .285 for his career. Season-high .333 as a rookie, then .283 as a sophomore, and .243 (!!!) in his 3rd season.
-- Very fast, but never stole a lot of bases and had terrible SB-CS numbers. 192-132 career (59%) with seasons of 21-16, 18-23, 8-12, 8-11.
-- Made a ton of errors. Led his league at SS 5 times. Finished 2nd 4 other times. Four seasons with 30+ errors.
-- Thrown out on the bases a couple of times a year for goofy stuff like trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a sac bunt or wild pitch, trying to advance to a base already occupied by another runner, trying to score from 2nd on a wild pitch, trying to advance from 1st to 3rd on a bunt single.

Basically, everything a major leaguer should learn how to do over his career, Griffin never learned.
   14. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 16, 2020 at 04:28 PM (#5924763)
Speaking of the '88 Dodgers, Griffin was the Angels' 1B coach for all of Mike Scioscia's 19 years as manager.


Basically, everything a major leaguer should learn how to do over his career, Griffin never learned.


"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." I have always hated that saying, because it's disparaging to teachers, whom I respect, but in this case...
   15. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: February 16, 2020 at 05:35 PM (#5924766)
Bill James memorably wrote about Alfredo Griffin in the New Historical Baseball Abstract, too, citing him as the most aggressive baserunner James ever saw:

"He really was phenomenal. I personally saw him score from second on a ground ball to second, scoring the lead run in the top of the ninth. I have heard about Alfredo doing things like going first-to-third on infield outs, moving second-to-third on a pop up to short, scoring on a pop out to the catcher, and taking second after grounding into a forceout. Alfredo figured that if you left the base ahead of him unguarded, it was his."

Pretty amazing that he went on to be a base coach for two-plus decades.

The 1993 Blue Jays had such a stacked lineup after they brought in Fernandez and Rickey. I think I recall Fernandez mostly batting 6th or 7th on that team and broadcasters calling him "the second leadoff man" almost every time he came up.

Alfredo Griffin played on that team, too. He pinch ran for John Olerud in the 8th inning of Game 6, stayed in at third base, was on deck when Joe Carter ended the season. It was Griffin's last major league game.

RIP, Tony.
   16. Cblau Posted: February 16, 2020 at 09:40 PM (#5924795)
Seems the initial report of Fernandez' death was exaggerated, but he did die this afternoon:
https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2020-02-16/tony-fernandez-dies-toronto-blue-jays-world-series-all-star-baseball
   17. Walt Davis Posted: February 16, 2020 at 09:59 PM (#5924799)
Somewhat surprisingly, Fernandez is the Blue Jays' all-time hits leader at 1,583. Not so surprising given he's also the all-time games leader at 1,450 (Delgado just behind). He's #1 in WARpos. Also triples and a 3-way tie in CS.
   18. DanG Posted: February 17, 2020 at 01:03 PM (#5924880)
Tony Fernandez was better than Omar Vizquel. Tony debuted on the BBWAA ballot the same year as Ripken and Gwynn, as well as McGwire, Baines, Saberhagen and Canseco. He got four votes.
   19. blueshaker Posted: February 17, 2020 at 07:44 PM (#5924987)
Legend to all Jays fans over the age of 35.

In the late 80s, in the midst of prime Ripken/Ozzie/Trammell, Tony was looked upon as their equal...considered perhaps the best SS on the planet. Modern analysis would place him a notch below that HOF trio (no shame there), but it's easy to understand the opinion at the time. The numbers (RField) show Fernandez as similar to Trammell and Ripken, who each won GGs before and after Fernandez's four year run. At the time however, he was viewed as an absolute elite defensive player, closer to Ozzie Smith. If you view him through that lens, you can see why he'd be placed in that kind of company.

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