Barfield in 2009
|Born: October 29, 1959|
|September 3, 1981, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 17, 1992, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||716|
|Career highlights and awards|
Barfield is considered to have had "by far the best outfield arm of the 1980s". He led American League outfielders in assists for three consecutive years (1985–87). Along with George Bell (LF) and Lloyd Moseby (CF), Barfield starred in what many analysts considered the best all-around outfield of the 1980s with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1985, he achieved a relatively rare combination with at least 20 each of home runs (27), stolen bases (22), and outfield assists (22).
Toronto Blue Jays (1981–1989)
Selected by the Blue Jays in the ninth round of the 1977 amateur draft, Barfield debuted in the majors in 1981, where he hit .232 in just 25 games. He was a regular the following season, and hit .246 with 18 home runs and 58 RBIs, including the first pinch hit grand slam in franchise history. He finished eighth in American League Rookie of the Year voting, and solidified himself as a regular in the lineup for years to come.
In 1983, Barfield hit .253 with 27 home runs and 58 RBIs, and the following year, increased his average to .284 with 14 home runs and 49 RBIs.
In 1985, Barfield batted .289/.369/.536, good for 42 per cent higher than league average, or adjusted OPS+. He hit for both power and speed, with 27 homers and 22 stolen bases. Further, as a defensive standout, recorded 22 outfield assists, netting 6.8 Wins Above Replacement. The .289 average was a career-high, and became the first Blue Jays player to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in the same season. Thus Toronto reach the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In his only playoff competition – the American League Championship Series (ALCS), Barfield batted .280, one home run, four RBIs, and one stolen base.
Despite the Blue Jays' failure to defend their division title from the previous year, Barfield enjoyed his best personal season in 1986. He collected career-highs in batting average (.289, tying the previous season), 40 home runs, 108 RBI, 107 runs, 170 hits, 35 doubles, and wRC+ (147). The 40 home runs led the major leagues and set a team record which lasted one year. In addition, Barfield was awarded the Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award and selected to the American League All-Star team.
The 1987 season saw Barfield play in a career-high 159 games, hitting .263 with 28 home runs and 84 RBIs. He also won his second Gold Glove that year. The following year, his average dipped to .244 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs. In 1989, he hit just .200 with five home runs (out of 16 total hits) and 11 RBIs in 28 games before being traded to the New York Yankees for Al Leiter on April 30.
New York Yankees (1989–1992)
Barfield finished the 1989 season with the Yankees, and his average increased slightly to .240, with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs. In 1990, he hit .246 with 25 home runs with 78 RBIs, but never produced quite like the club had hoped. In 1991 he hit just .225, although he had 17 home runs and 48 RBIs for a Yankees' team that was one of the worst in recent history.
By 1992, injuries and general ineffectiveness forced his retirement at the age of 32, after he hit just .137 (13 hits in 95 at-bats) in 30 games. He was granted free agency on November 4.
In 1993, he played in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, reuniting with Moseby, but batted just .215 in 114 games and was released.
He joined the Houston Astros for spring training in 1994 and was projected to be the opening-day right-fielder, but injuries prevented him from making the ballclub.
Throughout his career Barfield was a free swinger and racked up more than 140 strikeouts in each of five seasons ('85, '86, '87, '89 and '90). For most of his time in the major leagues his productivity overshadowed his strikeouts; however, by 1990, 1 in 3 Barfield at bats resulted in a strikeout.
Barfield was a career .256 hitter with 241 home runs, 716 RBI, and 39 WAR in 1428 games. He was inducted in the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.
His elder son, Josh, is a former infielder with the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians. He has another son, Jeremy, selected by the New York Mets during the 2006 draft. Jeremy opted to attend San Jacinto Community College instead, and was drafted again in 2008 by the Oakland Athletics. He spent eight seasons in the Athletics and Colorado Rockies minor league systems and two independent leagues before joining the Boston Red Sox organization in 2017.
On August 22, 2006 it was reported by the Associated Press that Jesse was taken to a hospital after he suffered a head injury when he was shoved down a flight of lower stairs by Jeremy during a family argument. The incident also resulted in Jeremy's arrest, and he faced a Class A misdemeanor charge of family assault.
- List of Major League Baseball career home run leaders
- List of Major League Baseball annual home run leaders
- James, Bill. The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. The Free Press. 2001. p. 299.
- "Was Jesse Barfield One of the Best Outfielders Ever?". Bluebird Banter. Retrieved 2014-08-06.
- Keri, Jonah (June 29, 2017). "How Bell, Moseby, Barfield stack up against greatest MLB outfields". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- Schlueter, Roger (December 2, 2010). "Stat Speak: Tribe kings of 20-20 outfielders". Cleveland Indians.com. MLB.com. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
- "Jesse Barfield statistics and history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
- Murray, Chass (May 1, 1989). "Leiter's 'Great Future' will be as a Jay". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
- Rowe, John. "Barfield's Injury Stalls Trade Talk", The Record (Bergen County), May 25, 1992. Accessed October 11, 2015. "Put all those Jesse Barfield trade rumors on hold.... The veteran outfielder told Yankees manager Buck Showalter that he had fallen in the sauna in his Tenafly home on Saturday night.
- Josh Barfield profile. Baseball Reference. Retrieved on September 3, 2017.
- Jeremy Barfield profile. Baseball Reference. Retrieved on September 3, 2017.
- "Reports: Barfield taken to hospital after fight with son". ESPN News Services. August 21, 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2010.