When the Jays recently acquired Yunel Escobar, some of the sniping sports media tourists made snide remarks about the revolving door of shortstops that the team has used over the years. To which we thought: What about John McDonald?
(We doubt it really matters if the Jays have had too many different bodies at that position anyhow, but this seems to be an ongoing gripe. People gotta bitch about something, we suppose.)
It hardly seems like he's been with the team this long, but John McDonald first stepped onto the field wearing the Black and Silver of the Blue Jays way back on April 5th, 2005. (A game in which he went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI, no less.) McDonald's teammates that day included Frank Menechino, Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske and Gustavo Chacin, while Miguel Batista came in to get the save. And the starting third baseman for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on that day?Alex Gonzalez, the pretty version who patrolled shortstop for the Jays for the better part of seven years. (And the last regular everyday longterm shortstop, for those of you who bemoan the turnover at that position.)
None of this is to say that Johnny Mac has been a key cog in the Jays' roster over the past six seasons. As much as we all love him for his unparalleled excellence with the glove, he's seemingly served as an auxiliary bench coach, mascot or designated pinch runner for the bulk of his time here. And yet, his ability to stick and make himself a better hitter (no, really, he has!) and a useful bench player has led to McDonald actually beginning to take his place in Blue Jays history amongst their all-time leaders in several categories.
McDonald currently sits in 42nd place in games played as a Blue Jay with 449, just five behind Buck Martinez. He's also 50th in at bats (1088) and plate appearances (1183).
McDonald's stick-to-it-iveness has also resulted in his managing to amass 22 stolen bases over the years, leaving him in a tie for 36th on the all time Jays stolen base list, alongside Aaron Hill, Rickey Henderson and Ernie Whitt. (Think about that foursome one more time: Johnny Mac, Hill, Rickey and Ernie. Tearin' up the bases in their own ways.)
Not surprisingly, McDonald ranks sixth all-time amongst Blue Jays in sacrifices with 31, just three behind Tony Fernandez and seven behind Lloyd Moseby. (Alfredo Griffin's 74 sacrifices seem like an unattainable summit, given the changes in the game.)
And while he has made the 897 outs as a Blue Jay (47th all-time, tied with Cliff Johnson), he's also pulled ahead of Nelson Liriano to claim 49th on the all-time singles list with 193.
We don't run through this list of achievements to mock. There's a certain degree of respect that you have to give to a guy who sticks around long enough to get his name on those lists. We're not sure how long Yunel's sore hand is going to keep him out of the lineup, and we're certainly hoping he's back soon. But if Johnny Mac is going to get playing time, we're hoping to see him pile up some numbers so that we'll continue to see him amongst the long list of all-time leaders for years to come.