As most of you already know, Everth Cabrera was named to the National League’s All-Star roster. With Cabrera’s recent selection in mind, I wondered when the last time was that the Friars sent a shortstop to the “Midsummer Classic.”
After much thought and a trip down “memory lane,” I finally realized that it was Tony Fernandez who was San Diego’s last All-Star shortstop.
Although Fernandez’s career in San Diego was short-lived (1991-1992), he was nevertheless a solid player for the Padres during his stint with them. I certainly remember when the Friars acquired Tony, because the team’s brass sent my all-time favorite player, Roberto Alomar, to Toronto (along with Joe Carter) for Fernandez and Fred McGriff.
Losing Alomar and Carter stung, but the Friars did acquire a couple of All-Stars in the forms of Fernandez and “The Crime Dog.” Oddly enough, all four players actually earned All-Star honors back in 1992 when the game was played at Jack Murphy Stadium!
Like Cabrera, Fernandez was the catalyst at the top of the Friars’ lineup during his two year-career with the club, particularly in 1992. Before the All-Star break that year, San Diego’s shortstop was in the midst of a terrific season at the plate and in the field.
Through his first 85 games, Fernandez posted a .297 (101-340) batting average and a solid .362 on-base percentage. In addition to those numbers, Tony smacked 23 extra-base hits (18 doubles, three triples, two home runs), scored 54 runs, drove in another 25, and registered an impressive 32:37 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Always slick with the leather up the middle, San Diego’s shortstop finished the year third among National League shortstops in fielding percentage (.983) in 1992 as well.
Like most of San Diego’s best players during that era, Fernandez did not last long as a member of the Padres as he was shipped out of town in one of the team’s numerous fire-sales of the early 1990’s. The Friars’ brass, led by then-general manager Joe McIlvaine, traded their starting shortstop almost immediately after the 1992 season finished. Tony was scheduled to make $2.3 million in 1993, and San Diego’s front office simply had no room on their payroll for him.
The worst part of the whole situation was the fact that the Padres received almost nothing in return for Fernandez. Minor leaguers D.J. Dozier and Raul Casanova never participated in a regular season game for the franchise, and pitcher Wally Whitehurst only played two mediocre seasons in San Diego (8-14 record, 4.24 ERA, 32 starts, 169.2 innings pitched, 100 strikeouts).
Bad childhood memories of front office incompetence aside, credit must go to Fernandez for his solid efforts in San Diego now that he is not the most recent Padre shortstop to earn All-Star honors.
Statistics Courtesy of: Baseball Reference
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