John McDonald’s Top 10 Defensive Gems

During his time in Toronto, he was known as the human highlight reel. Every time John McDonald took the field, you knew you were in for one heck of a show.

It was always a treat to watch John McDonald in action, whether it was at third base, shortstop, or even second base. No matter what position he played on the infield, his defense was always impeccable.

So it seems only fitting to honour John McDonald by looking back as his Top 10 Defensive Gems. Unfortunately, the MLB footage only goes back as far as 2008, as there were a few other plays that stand out in my mind (namely his diving catch into foul ground from 2007).


Despite that, there were ample highlight reel plays to choose from. And as difficult as it was, I think I’ve compiled the 10 best defensive plays from John McDonald’s career with the Blue Jays.

10.) June 29, 2008 vs. Atlanta Braves

In 2008, you’d be hard pressed to find a better defensive duo of the left infield than John McDonald and Scott Rolen. As the video demonstrates, even if one ever got past Rolen, Johnny Mac was there to pick up the slack.

9.) September 9, 2009 vs. Minnesota Twins

John McDonald is the definition of a “pitcher’s best friend”, and nobody can vouch for that more than Roy Halladay. In this play, McDonald demonstrates his range and throws from his knees to get the out at first base.

8.) August 28, 2008 vs. Tampa Bay Rays


Not every play that John McDonald was involved in was a thing of beauty, but he got the job done. Although he didn’t have time to grab this one, Johnny Mac’s glove did the work of fielding and throwing to get the force out.

7.) August 2, 2009 vs. Oakland A’s

Again, we have another quintessential John McDonald flip play to the bag, but this one was even more impressive. The quickness in which he’s able to get to the ball allows Aaron Hill to turn the double play. Bonus points!

6.) September 21, 2010 vs. Seattle Mariners


When a baseball comes screaming down the line, you better be ready to grab it. Johnny Mac reacts quickly and snags this liner down the third base line and robs a base hit and a run away from the Mariners.

5.) September 6, 2009 vs. Kansas City Royals

With Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill handling most of the middle infield duties, John McDonald only played 73 games in 2009. But what time Johnny Mac did get there, he always made the most of his opportunities on the diamond.

4.) April 10, 2011 vs. Boston Red Sox

This one should still be fresh in everyone’s mind; it was the ball in foul territory that John McDonald nearly overran, but at the least second made an adjustment and leapt to grab it in foul ground.

3.) April 21, 2010 vs. Kansas City Royals

With so many Johnny Mac patented scoops in the Top 10, I’m beginning to think John McDonald really enjoyed playing with those tiny plastic shovels in the sandbox as a child. Another timeless defensive gem here that we’ll see on Blue Jays highlight reels for years.

2.) July 11, 2008 vs. New York Yankees

This one could just as easily been number one, but it was more of a team effort between Marco Scutaro and John McDonald. And you know it’s a defensive gem when even Roy Halladay shows his admiration in the way of a subtle smile.

1.) August 26, 2009 vs. Tampa Bay Rays

The funny thing about this play is had John McDonald caught the line drive outright, it would not been as impressive. The fact he knocked the ball down mid-air, found it, and threw across the diamond from his knees in time makes it all that more dramatic and exciting to watch.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

10 thoughts on “John McDonald’s Top 10 Defensive Gems

  • August 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks for putting these in one place, Ian. Cheers.

  • August 24, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    No problem Nav, the sad thing was the videos only went back to 2008 … I'm sure there were many others worthy of the Top 10.

  • August 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    Great job, Ian!

    That helped remind me that Hill used to be pretty solid in the field too. And Scutaro…infield D in Toronto has been exceptional over the years.

  • August 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Chill, I don't know if we realized it at the time, but the Blue Jays were blessed with a very solid defensive infield for a while there:

    Rolen, J-Mac/Scutaro, Hill, Overbay … and now three of them get to reunite on the Diamondbacks roster1

  • August 24, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    You don't even have one of John McDonald's trademark sliding plays deep in the hole at shortstop. How come???

  • August 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    chrisross, there were so many highlights to choose from – it was tough narrowing it down to just 10. And also, nothing earlier than 2008, so that probably explains why there weren't any Johnny Mac "deep in the hole"-patented plays.

  • August 25, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Gotta echo Chris, its not a Johnny Mac top 10 without one of those deep in the hold, quick release, long looping throws. But those could have been more pre-2008 when the Prime Minister of Defence earned his name.

  • August 25, 2011 at 4:59 am

    Anon, I wouldn't be surprised if there were a boatload of highlight reel plays from 2006 and 2007 – that's when J-Mac played 104 and 123 games respectively.

    I remember he was at his height of popularity as an everyday player back in 2007. Heck, there were even a couple of posts I did up advocating John McDonald for Gold Glove at shortstop that year. Heck, anybody would've been a better choice than Derek Jeter.

  • March 25, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Thanks buddy, I've been looking for such a video for ages. There used to be one on YouTube that included some footage from 2007 (and potentially 2006) but it got taken down. It'd be nice to get those videos back, namely the one where he slid into the hole and through out Jeter from his back, but nonetheless thanks for your compilation!

    • March 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      I'm glad you enjoyed it! Unfortunately, the videos on MLB only went back to about 2008 … there were a couple others I would've loved to include, but couldn't find them.

      Honestly, there could be a Top 50 list of all of Johnny Mac's defensive gems, there are THAT many of them.

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