Saunders in 2012
Toronto Blue Jays – No. 21
November 19, 1986 |
Victoria, British Columbia
|July 25, 2009 for the Seattle Mariners|
(through 2014 season)
|Runs batted in||182|
Michael Ryan Saunders (born November 19, 1986) is a Canadian professional baseball center fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball. He was nicknamed "The Condor" by Dave Sims, who attributed the origin of it to Lee Tinsley.
Saunders started his baseball playing Little League Baseball in the Gordon Head Baseball Association. While attending Lambrick Park Secondary School in Victoria, British Columbia, Saunders played high school baseball for the Victoria Mariners of the British Columbia Premier Baseball League. He spent the 2004 season playing for the Tallahassee Community College Eagles.
The Seattle Mariners selected Saunders in the 11th round of the 2004 Major League Baseball Draft. He then spent the 2005 season with the Everett AquaSox of the Class A-Short Season Northwest League, hitting .270 with seven home runs and 39 runs batted in (RBIs). In 2006, he was promoted to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Class A Midwest League, hitting .239 with four home runs and 39 RBIs. Despite struggling in 2006, for 2007 he was promoted to the High Desert Mavericks of the Class A-Advanced California League, where he excelled, hitting .299 with 14 home runs and 77 RBIs, before he was called up to the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx of the Class AA Southern League, where he finished off the season hitting .288 with one home run and seven RBIs in 15 games. Saunders started the 2008 season once again in West Tennessee, where he hit .290 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in 67 games before being promoted to the Tacoma Rainiers of the Class AAA Pacific Coast League on June 17.
After beginning the 2009 season with the Rainiers where he hit .313 with 13 HRs and 32 RBIs in 243 at-bats, Saunders was promoted from Tacoma on July 25, 2009, when the Mariners designated Wladimir Balentien for assignment. He made his MLB debut that day in a game against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field, where he went hitless against Jeremy Sowers in the Mariners 10–3 loss. His first major league hit was a single off of Cliff Lee on July 26, 2009.
On May 6, 2010, Saunders was recalled from Tacoma after the Mariners put Milton Bradley on the restricted list. Three days later, he hit his first Major League home run off Angels pitcher Ervin Santana. He finished the 2010 season with a .211 batting average, 10 home runs, and 33 RBIs. Saunders played only 58 games for the Mariners in 2011, and batted .149 with just two home runs and eight RBIs.
In 2012, Saunders played a career-high 139 games and greatly improved upon his 2011 campaign. He hit .247 with 19 home runs and 57 RBIs. He played in 132 games the following season. Saunders finished 2013 with a .236 batting average, 12 home runs, and 46 RBI. In 2014, Saunders battled a number of injuries that limited him to 78 games, but finished with a career-high .278 average with 8 home runs and 34 RBIs.
Toronto Blue Jays
At the end of the 2014 season, Jack Zduriencik, the general manager of the Mariners, publicly criticized Saunders' work ethic, which Saunders challenged. On December 3, 2014, the Mariners traded Saunders to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitcher J. A. Happ. Saunders agreed to a one-year, $2.875 million contract on January 16, 2015, to avoid salary arbitration.
Beijing Olympic Games
Saunders also represented Canada at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China. Serving as Canada's primary right-fielder, Saunders had 8 hits in 28 at-bats out of the third spot in the lineup. He scored five runs and had four RBIs in seven games, while his two home runs led Canada to a 6th place finish.
World Baseball Classic
Saunders represented Canada at the 2013 World Baseball Classic and was named to the All-WBC Team for his good offensive performance.
- Twitter: Dave Sims, June 13, 2012
- MLB.com: Mariners promote Saunders from Minors Retrieved on July 25, 2009
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Mariners recall Saunders; designate Balentien Retrieved on July 25, 2009
- Outfielder Michael Saunders recalled from Triple-A Tacoma
- "Michael Saunders Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
- Thornburg, Chad (December 3, 2014). "Blue Jays reportedly acquire Saunders for Happ". MLB.com. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
- Todd, Jeff (December 3, 2014). "Mariners, Blue jays Swap Michael Saunders, J.A. Happ". mlbtraderumors.com. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
- "Saunders, Estrada agree to terms with Blue Jays". Sportsnet. January 16, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
- WCTV.tv: Former Eagle Michael Saunders Knocking on Door of Big Leagues Retrieved on July 25, 2009
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)