Stewart with the Athletics
|Born: February 25, 1974|
|September 2, 1995, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 7, 2008, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Runs batted in||580|
Stewart was born in Cincinnati and attended Miami Southridge High School in South Miami Heights, Florida. He played baseball and football and ran track at Miami Southridge. He was recruited by Bobby Bowden to play football at Florida State as a defensive back. He was named to the 1992 American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings High School All-America Second Team. His number would later be retired by the baseball team at Miami Southridge.
Stewart was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 19th pick of the 1992 MLB Draft as compensation for the Los Angeles Dodgers signing Tom Candiotti. He made his Major League debut on September 2, 1995. Stewart fluctuated between the majors and minors over the next several seasons, eventually finding a place in the everyday Blue Jay lineup by the end of 1997.
In his first full season with the Blue Jays in 1998, he hit .279, belting 12 home runs and driving in 55 runs. During that season, he stole 51 bases, a career-high. Playing alongside superstars Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, and Carlos Delgado that year, Stewart became a catalyst at the top of the Toronto lineup, providing speed and base-stealing ability, as well as some power and clutch-hitting. In every season from 1999 to 2002, Stewart batted .300 or higher and scored over 100 runs. He also showed some unexpected power, hitting 21 HRs in 2000.
Stewart spent parts of eight seasons with Toronto before he was dealt to the Minnesota Twins for Bobby Kielty in 2003. Stewart played in 855 games with Toronto, batting .301 with 218 doubles, 73 home runs and 163 stolen bases.
Stewart was traded, along with the balance of his salary, in 2003 to the Minnesota Twins for Bobby Kielty. Following that off-season, the Blue Jays would trade Kielty for Ted Lilly. Stewart performed well for the Twins in the pennant race with the Chicago White Sox, hitting .322 with the Twins, with an on-base percentage of .384. The Twins won the American League Central Division title that year, but lost to the New York Yankees 3 games to 1 in the American League Division Series. Despite his team's loss, Stewart batted .400 with a .471 On Base Percentage in that series. That year, Stewart finished 4th in American League MVP voting.
Stewart finished his one season with the Athletics hitting .290 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI in 146 games.
The Toronto Blue Jays signed Stewart to a minor league deal on February 24, 2008, and gave their former first-round pick an invitation to spring training. Stewart ended up being chosen by the Jays to take over left field in a platoon with Matt Stairs, over fan favorite Reed Johnson who was released by the team. On March 30, the Blue Jays purchased Stewart's contract from Triple-A Syracuse. He was released by the Blue Jays on August 11.
After his stellar 2003 season, Stewart suffered from plantar fasciitis problems in both feet, limiting him to 92 games in 2004 and only 44 in 2006. While playing football in high school, Stewart suffered an injury to his shoulder, thus weakening his throwing ability. Because his arm is not as strong as it once was, he has sometimes been considered a liability in the field; opposing base runners frequently take bases they might not take if another fielder were playing his position.
In 1386 games over 14 seasons, Stewart posted a .297 batting average (1653-for-5574) with 853 runs, 315 doubles, 41 triples, 115 home runs, 580 RBI, 196 stolen bases, 504 bases on balls, .360 on-base percentage and .430 slugging percentage. He finished his career with a .984 fielding percentage playing at all three outfield positions. In 8 postseason games, he hit .286 (10-for-35) with 2 RBI.