There was a time when many thought
a young pup by the name of Kelly Gruber would man the hot corner for the Blue
Jays for many years. But the former No. 1 draft pick of the Cleveland Indians
quickly faded after one solid offensive year in 1990. By 1992, Gruber hit
.229/.627 in his final season with the Jays and his final full year in the
majors at the age of 30. Offensively, Gruber was a liability in 120 games. He did
not hit for power (11 homers), he did not walk (26) and his annual double-digit
steal totals dropped to seven. Defensively, the dwindling star made 17 errors
and posted a .949 fielding percentage. The best news of the season for Jays’ fans, aside from winning the World
Series, was probably when the California Angels agreed to foot some of the bill
($4.3 million) for Gruber’s final season. He was shipped off, with cash, for
Luis Sojo on Dec. 8, 1992.
Jeff Kent saw action at third base
for the Jays, playing in 49 games. He made 10 errors and posted a .915 fielding
percentage, which probably helped General Manager Pat Gillick decide he was not the third baseman
of the future and made him expendable. Tom Quinlan, brother of the Angels’ Robb
Quinlan, appeared in 13 games at third base. Both Ed Sprague and Pat Tabler
appeared at the position for one game.
Troy Glaus’ batting average is not
always a great deal higher than Gruber’s was in 1992, but the current Jays’
third baseman has serious power, plays hurt and is a great guy to have up when
the game is on the line (104 RBI). In 2006, Glaus hit .252/.868 with 38 homers.
As well, Glaus, 30, walked three times more than Gruber did in 1992. The
former college standout came to Toronto with a reputation for poor range and below average skills at third base, but he
erased those thoughts by mid-season. Glaus showed solid range, good reactions
and a strong throwing arm. The only real knock on Glaus is his inability to
remain healthy for an entire season. However, he stuck it out in 2006 and
managed to appear in 153 games, including a 145 at third base, where he made 14 errors
and posted a .963 fielding percentage.
Other players who appeared at
third base for the Blue Jays in 2006 included Shea Hillenbrand (17), Eric
Hinske (10), John Hattig (10) and John McDonald (2). In 2006, Hattig figures to
see some time at third base, along with McDonald, Jason Smith and possibly Rob
Cosby, although he was recently removed from the 40-man roster.
Edge: Glaus (2007)