Jun 25, 2015

One Time Mets Shortstop: Tony Fernandez (1993)

Octavio Antonio (Castro) Fernandez was born on June 30, 1962 in San Pedro de Marcos, in the Dominican Republic.

He was one of many Dominican shortstops, to come up to the big leagues in the seventies/ eighties period. Fernandez was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979 playing four years in the minor leagues before making his brief MLB debut in 1983.

Two seasons later, he was the Blue Jays regular shortstop & stayed there for the next five seasons (1985-1990). He was a fine defensive shortstop, winning four straight Gold Gloves from 1986-1989 setting a record for AL short stops with a .992 fielding percentage in 1989. He led the American league in fielding percentage & assists twice, as well as put outs three times.

He was famous for throwing the ball underhanded to first base, on shots hit to his right side. The tall six foot, two, 165 pond Fernandez ,was always in top shape and was a fitness fanatic.

He loved to buy unusual work out machines and use them in the Jays clubhouse. Fernandez made four All Star teams (1986-1987/1989/1992) & was always among the league’s tops in games, at bats & triples.

He led the league in triples in 1990 with an incredible 17.  He was a good hitter as well, batting over .300 twice, finishing in the league’s top ten in hitting in both the 1986 & 1987 seasons. In 1986 he had a career high 213 hits (third in the AL), while leading the AL in at bats (687) & games played (162). In 1987 he had career highs in batting (.322) on base % (.379) . He played in two ALCS with the Blue Jays in those years hitting well over .300 both times.

In December of 1990 he was involved in a huge trade going to the San Diego Padres with Fred McGriff in exchange for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. He spent two seasons there batting .270 while the Blue Jays went on to win the 1992 World Series.

In October of 1992, Fernandez was traded to the New York Mets for Wally Whitehurst , D.J. Dozier & a player to be named later.

Fernandez hit in the number two spot & was the Mets 0pening day shortstop in 1993, hitting safely in six of his first eight games. His stay in New York was short, after only playing in 48 games he was hitting a weak .225 with one HR, five doubles, two triples & 14 RBIs.

That June he was sent back to Toronto, in exchange for Darrin Jackson. Fernandez arrived in Toronto just in time for the pennant race and went on to win his World Series title.

Post Season: In the 1993 ALCS he hit well batting .318, (7-22) while walking twice & driving in a run against the Chicago White Sox.

In the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, he had nine RBIs going 7-21 (.333) with two runs scored in the six games.

He would move on to the Cincinnati Reds (1994) & the AL New York team (1995) over the next two years. He missed all of the 1996 season but in 1997 he signed on with the Cleveland Indians.

There he switched over to second base, after Carlos Baerga had been sent to the Mets. His career was revived on the A.L. Champion Indians team, batting .286 with 21 doubles, a career high matching 11 HRs & 44 RBIs.

He had another hot hitting post season, batting .357 in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles. He then hit .471 in the World Series loss to the Florida Marlins. In Game #7 in the bottom of the 11th inning, he made a crucial error on Craig Counsell's ground ball. This led to the Marlins eventual Series winning run on Edgar Renteria's walk off base hit scoring Counsell.

He went back to Toronto in 1998 and spent two seasons there hitting well over .300 both times, amongst the league’s top hitters. He played in Japan for the 2000 season. In 2001 he was back in the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers and finished his career back in Toronto later that season.

In his 17 year career, he hit .288 with 2276 hits 414 doubles 92 triples 94 HRs 1957 runs scored 844 RBIs & a .347 on base %.

He has the 9th best fielding % at short stop all time at .980%. He has played in 1573 games there (51st all time) with 2708 put outs (59th all time) 4511 assists (63rd all time) & turned 943 double plays (44th all time).

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