With 15 days to go until Opening Day of Spring Training 2012 we will take a look back at one of the premier Blue Jay hitters from the second half of the 1990's.
Shawn Green spent seven seasons in Toronto, where he began a very impressive career. The native of Des Plaines, Illinois was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 1st round (16th overall) in 1991, and he made his major league debut two short years later on September 28, 1993. After appearing in just three games at the tail end of that 1993 season (and going hitless in six at-bats), Green earned his first and only World Series ring.
Despite a strong 1994 season with Triple-A Syracuse in which he hit .344 with 13 home runs in 109 games, Green was still not quite big league ready. In 14 games with Toronto the then 21 year-old managed just three hits in 33 at-bats during a mid-season audition.
Green finally got his shot in 1995, appearing in 121 games in what was his Rookie season. He finished the year with a .288 batting average, 15 home runs, 31 doubles, and 54 RBIs and wound up finishing fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. That season began a run of five in a row where Green continued to emerge as one of the most dangerous power threats in all of baseball.
Green's fourth full season in Toronto (1998) saw him slug 35 home runs while he reached the 100 RBI plateau for the first time in his career. He followed that up with perhaps the finest season of his 15 year career, one that proved to be his last as a Blue Jay.
He finished the 1999 season with huge numbers, and a lot of hardware. His .309 batting average was a career high, and in fact the only season in his career that he finished with a batting average north of .300. He added 42 home runs and 123 RBIs to that average, and finished the season with a league high 45 doubles and 361 total bases. Those accomplishments earned him a trip to the All-Star Game, a Silver Slugger award, and his efforts in right field earned him a Gold Glove.
Following the 1999 season Green signed a big contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and never returned to the American League. He spent five seasons in L.A., followed by two in Arizona, and two in New York with the Mets. He finished his career with a .283 batting average, 328 home runs, and 1070 RBIs.
Shawn Green still holds the Blue Jays record for the longest hitting streak in team history - one that spanned 28 games in 1999 - and his 119 home runs with Toronto rank tenth all-time in franchise history.