Shannon Harold Stewart
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 175 lb.
- High School Miami Southridge High School
- Debut September 2, 1995
- Final Game June 7, 2008
- Born February 25, 1974 in Cincinnati, OH USA
Shannon Stewart was an outfielder and one of the most free-swinging lead-off hitters in the game. At Southridge High School in Miami, FL, he was a three-sport standout in track, baseball, and football. As a senior, he was an All-Dade County selection in baseball. As a junior, he was an All-Dade County selection in football.
Drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1st round (19th pick) of the 1992 amateur draft, Stewart made his major-league debut on September 2, 1995. He 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.
Stewart was 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, he batted .300 or higher and scored over 100 runs. He was third in the American League in stolen bases in 1998, with 51 steals and 4th in 1999 with 37. He also showed some unexpected power, belting 21 HRs in 2000.
Stewart was traded on July 16, 2003 to the Minnesota Twins for Bobby Kielty and a player to be named later (Dave Gassner)in a move designed to free money from the Blue Jays' payroll. Stewart, now in the thick of a pennant race, was suddenly cast into the limelight. Despite putting up numbers similar to those he had been posting in Toronto for the past four seasons, he found himself setting the table for a lineup which had lacked a true leadoff hitter for years. Stewart was largely credited for turning the Twins' season around. The Twins beat the Chicago White Sox in a closely fought pennant race but were defeated by the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series. He finished 4th in American League MVP voting, a remarkable accomplishment for a leadoff hitter. After several more years with Minnesota hampered by injuries, particularly plantar fasciitis problems in both feet, which limited him to 92 games in 2004 and only 44 in 2006, he played with the Oakland Athletics in 2007 and then returned to the Blue Jays for his final season in 2008.
Stewart was criticized during his career for his poor arm in the outfield and his lack of aggression on the bases later in his career, largely as the result of continued hamstring injuries. Shannon was often seen as a liability in the field; opposing baserunners frequently took bases they might not have taken if another fielder were playing his position. Stewart wrapped up his career with a .297 batting average, 580 RBIs and 115 home runs.
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2000)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (1999-2002)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (1998)
- Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, July 18, 2000