Blue Jays' Top 5 2Bs: Matheson’s take

April 6th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only … if you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favourite at this position.

Blue Jays' Top 5: First basemen | Catchers

Here is Keegan Matheson’s ranking of the top five second basemen in Blue Jays history. Next week: third basemen.

1) , 1991-95
Key fact: Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011

In the late 1980s, the Blue Jays were good, but they couldn’t get over the hump, so then-general manager Pat Gillick pulled off a blockbuster trade. Off to the Padres were Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff in exchange for eventual World Series hero Joe Carter and a young second baseman named Roberto Alomar.

Just 22 years old and three years into his professional career, Alomar was surprised. He called his father, Sandy Alomar Sr., a veteran of 15 MLB seasons, and asked for advice.

“He said, ‘You are going to a great ballclub, a great city and a great organization. You will never regret it,'" Alomar recalled. "And my dad was right."

The Blue Jays didn’t regret it, either, capturing back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93. Alomar is considered by many to be the greatest Blue Jays player of all time. The 2011 Hall of Fame inductee went to 12 All-Star Games, won 10 Gold Glove Awards and claimed four Silver Slugger Awards during a 17-year career. Alomar was named an All-Star and was a Gold Glove Award winner in all five seasons with the Blue Jays.

Though Alomar's stint in Toronto wasn’t long, his impact on baseball in the city was profound. He remains involved with youth baseball, both in his home of Puerto Rico and in Toronto, where he works often with the Blue Jays Baseball Academy and serves as commissioner of the annual Tournament 12 at Rogers Centre.

2) , 2005-11
Key fact: Became the second Blue Jays player to pull off a straight steal of home in 2007

Hill’s time in Toronto was a slow build to a big 2009 season, when he fully tapped into his offensive potential and earned a trip to the All-Star Game. That season, Hill launched 36 home runs with an .829 OPS, good for a value of 4.0 fWAR.

Known as a strong defender, Hill was a steady presence in Blue Jays lineups over his seven years with the club before being dealt to the D-backs in August 2011. In Arizona, Hill famously hit for the cycle twice in just 12 days, becoming the first player to achieve the feat twice in the same season since Babe Herman in 1931.

3) , 2002-05
Key fact: Selected in the 43rd round of the 1997 MLB Draft

Few Blue Jays have ever played the field with more style than "O-Dog." Hudson’s defensive mastery was eventually recognized with four Gold Glove Awards over a span of five seasons, the first of which came in Toronto in 2005.

Hudson was particularly brilliant around the bag at second, whether it be ranging back into the hole to make a play or flipping the ball to his shortstop in a way you’ve never seen before. He was eventually dealt to the D-backs in the trade that brought back Troy Glaus and Sergio Santos, finishing up his 11-year MLB career with the White Sox in 2012.

4) Damaso Garcia, 1980-86
Key fact: Garcia was once captain of the Dominican Republic national soccer team

Signed out of the Dominican Republic by the great scout Epy Guerrero, Garcia transferred his athleticism on the soccer pitch to the baseball diamond as he became a strong defender up the middle for the Blue Jays.

A contact hitter whose strikeout percentage was never higher than 12.2 percent in a season with Toronto -- a stunning number to look back on given today’s game -- Garcia enjoyed a two-year peak in 1982 and '83, when he combined to hit .308 with a .732 OPS. Along with the Silver Slugger Award in '82, he was later named to All-Star Games in '84 and '85.

5) Manuel Lee, 1985-92
Key fact: Shifted to shortstop in 1991 after the arrival of Roberto Alomar

Lee filled the gap between Garcia and Alomar at second base, and he was certainly known more for his glove than his bat. At the plate, Lee hit .254 with a .627 OPS over eight seasons in Toronto. He saved his best for last, though, posting a 2.9 WAR season in 1992.

Honorable mentions
was held back due to appearing in just 316 games with the Blue Jays after a series of unfortunate injuries, but he’s right on the edge. … If puts up a sophomore season similar to his 2019 debut, he’ll already challenge Lee’s career 5.6 WAR in Toronto (Biggio was worth 2.4 WAR in 2019). … appeared in 338 games at second base for the Blue Jays, but 556 at third. … 's 1.2 career WAR with the Blue Jays is always deserving of an honorable mention, while also proving that postgame interviews are not yet factored into WAR value.