Flashback Friday: ‘Septembers to Remember’ by Blue Jays Hitters
Say what you will about results in September, but Teoscar Hernandez is generating a lot of buzz for someone who could command a starting outfield job for the Blue Jays next year.
People are quick to dismiss September statistics (Pat Gillick apparently used to call September results “fool’s gold”), but at the same time, there are plenty of Blue Jays who used the final month of the season as springboard into the next year.
There were a few who fizzled out faster than the moment their name was uttered, but it’s interesting to look back at some of the best Septembers that Blue Jays hitters ever had. Some names won’t surprise you, others will take you on a trip down memory lane.
Jose Bautista: September 2009
10 home runs, .944 OPS
This is the big one – the gold standard. Up until September of 2009, Jose Bautista was a journeyman player. In fact, he was in jeopardy of being non-tendered by the Jays entering the 2009 offseason.
But what he accomplished in September of 2009 opened a lot of eyes and made the team think twice about casting Bautista aside. His 10 home runs in 17 games is tied for the second most round-trippers hit in September/October by a Blue Jays player.
Josh Phelps: 2002
6 home runs, 1.108 OPS
For every Jose Bautista, there is invariably a Josh Phelps. Phelps played out of his mind in his rookie campaign for the Blue Jays in 2002 and came back in 2003 to hit 20 home runs in 114 games with the Jays.
How many people thought Phelps was going to become the next big thing for the Blue Jays? Much like Eric Hinske, Phelps peaked extremely early in his career and fizzled from thereon out. Hey, at least he has those two fifth deck home runs he hit at the Skydome, right?
Carlos Delgado: 2002
11 home runs, 1.040 OPS
Not only was this the best September posted by a Blue Jays hitter ever, it’s one of the best months total by a member of the Blue Jays lineup. Carlos Delgado killed it in September of that year by collecting one-third of his entire 2002 home run total in one single month.
Delgado missed over two weeks in August of 2002, but he came back stronger than ever close to the end of the season with some jaw-dropping statistics in September.
Tony Fernandez: 1990
44 hits, .388 AVG
Tony Fernandez has the distinction of collecting the most hits by a Blue Jays hitter in the final month of the regular season with 44. He may not have possessed much extra-base power that season, but Fernandez was the mark of consistency down the stretch in 1990.
His 44-hit month of September ranks as the second best for Blue Jays hitters in franchise history. Who has the most hits in a month by a Blue Jay? Again, it’s Fernandez himself as he collected 47 hits in June of 1986.
Fernandez had 13 multi-hit games, a whopping eight three-hit games and was held hitless only seven times in September of 1990. If there’s one thing Tony knew how to do, it was put the bat on the ball; that he did with great success that month.
Randy Ruiz: 2009
6 home runs, 1.155 OPS
Who here remembers the “Free Ruiz” movement? In late 2009, Randy Ruiz struggled to gain playing time, but he made the most of his 17 games in September by hitting 6 bombs and posting a 1.155 OPS.
Ruiz was named the Pacific Coast League MVP of 2009 and many wondered whether his home run-friendly numbers from Las Vegas would translate to big league results.
For a short period, it did: 6 homers in 17 games in September of 2009. Then just like a mirage, Ruiz came back and hit one more home run before disappearing from the big leagues for good.
Kelly Gruber: 1990
8 home runs, 1.116 OPS, 73 total bases
Want to know who collected the most bases ever in a September/October by a Blue Jays hitter? None other than Kelly Gruber. Eight home runs, nine doubles and three triples propelled Gruber to an eye-popping end to his 1990 campaign.
It capped off what was personally a very successful year for Gruber in which he walked away with a Gold Glove Award, a Silver Slugger award and he also made an All-Star Game appearance.