Two things have turned our mind to Fred McGriff this week.
Firstly, we're reminded of the Crime Dog by the trade deadline bonanza and all of the discussions about untouchables and the future of the franchise without its signature star.
The second factor is the gratuitous orgy of nostalgia that's about to take place with the Back2Back weekend, in which McGriff will have no role given that it was the trade that sent him away that was the catalyst for the Jays' ultimate success.
It's likely because of those World Series years that McGriff's tenure in Toronto has been somewhat overlooked as the years have passed, given that he was the central player on teams that were accused of being "chokers". In fact, McGriff's performance was often singled out as one of the central reasons for Toronto's failures in the stretch drive. His only playoff experience with the Jays was a single series against the Oakland A's in 1989 in which he went 3-21 with three singles.
McGriff was also somewhat misunderstood in his time with the Blue Jays because of his patience at the plate. At the time, fans expected the big power hitting first baseman to be wailing away and taking "the bat off his shoulder" more often, rather than drawing walks and making pitchers work. At the time, few people saw his walk rate as a plus and few people even discussed OBP as any sort of indicator of performance.
And yet, a look at McGriff's rate stats over his four full seasons in Toronto should leave fans with a much greater impression of his place in Blue Jays history. He ranks third in OBP (behind John Olerud and Carlos Delgado) with a .389 mark, and second to Delgado in slugging (.530) and OPS (.919). Moreover, his OPS+ of 154 is tops all time for the Jays, and he still ranks in the top ten in home runs (125) in spite of his relatively small number of plate appearances.
It's all good to remember those two great teams in 1992 and 1993, and to celebrate their achievements. But as you spend the weekend waxing nostalgic for some of the more marginal passengers on those championship teams, spare a thought for a player who was one of the most feared Blue Jays to ever step into the batters box, and who rattled more than his share of windows beyond the centre field fence.