Jonathan Rafael Villar Roque
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 233 lb.
Shortstop Jonathan Villar made his major league debut in 2013.
Villar signed with the Philadelphia Phillies shortly after his 17th birthday, with Wil Tejada as scout. He hit .271/.367/.341 for the DSL Phillies with 27 steals in 35 tries. He batted .277/.364/.372 in 31 games for the GCL Phillies and went 9 for 39 with a double, triple and four walks in 11 games for the Williamsport Crosscutters. Jonathan began 2010 with the Lakewood BlueClaws and was producing at a .272/.332/.358 rate after 100 games and was 38-for-51 in steals; he was fielding only .913 at short. He was then dealt with J.A. Happ and Anthony Gose to the Houston Astros for Roy Oswalt. Houston assigned the infielder to the Lancaster JetHawks.
Villar made his major league debut with the Astros on July 22, 2013, having replaced the veteran Ronny Cedeno on the roster. He started at shortstop and was the lead-off hitter against the Oakland Athletics, going 1 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts in a 4-3 loss. His first hit came on a bunt against Tommy Milone in the 3rd inning, after which he proceeded to steal second base and the came in to score on single by Chris Carter. Villar quickly claimed the starting job at shortstop for himself, ending up with 58 games played, a .243 average and 18 stolen bases. He was the Opening Day shortstop in 2014, when he went 1 for 3 in a 6-2 win over the New York Yankees, although it was clear that he would need to hit a lot better if he wanted to retain his job when top prospect Carlos Correa, the top pick of the 2012 amateur draft was ready to play in the big leagues. He played 87 games that season, hitting .209 with 7 homers and 27 RBIs. In 2015, he improved to .284 in 53 games, although this was the year that Correa made his major league debut, moving Jonathan to a back-up role. He made one appearance on the postseason, scoring a run as a pinch-runner for Chris Carter against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the ALDS. On November 19th, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in return for minor league pitcher Cy Sneed.
In his first season for the Brewers in 2016, Villar led the National League in stolen bases with 62 and also in caught stealing with 18. He hit .285 with 19 homers and 63 RBIs, scoring 92 runs and putting up an OPS+ of 117 in what was easily his best season with the bat. He slid back noticeably in 2017 with a .241 average with 11 homers and 40 RBIs in 122 games. He scored 49 runs and stole 23 bases as his numbers slipped across the board and his OPS+ was just 71. In 2018, he was hitting .261 after 87 games with 6 homers and 22 RBIs when on July 31st he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with prospects Jean Carmona and Luis Ortiz in return for second baseman Jonathan Schoop. He was on the disabled list with a thumb sprain at the time of the trade and was joining a team that had just undergone a veritable fire sale. He hit .258 in 54 games for Baltimore to finish the year at .260 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs in 141 games.
Back with the Orioles in 2019, he split his time between second base and shortstop and was one of the most productive players on a very weak team. On August 5th, he hit for the cycle in a 9-6 loss to the New York Yankees. He was not even aware of his feat as he hit a single in the bottom of the 9th; first base coach Arnie Beyeler had to explain to him why the remaining fans were cheering inordinately. It was the first cycle by an Orioles player since Felix Pie in 2009 and only the 5th since the team's move from St. Louis in 1954. He explained after the game that he hadn't been paying attention, and that no one had told him, probably in order not to jinx him. His night also included a triple in the 3rd, a double in the 5th and a homer in the 6th. He played all 162 games for the Orioles that season, hitting .274 with 33 doubles and 24 homers in addition to 40 stolen bases. He scored 111 runs and his OPS+ was 109. So it was a bit of a surprise when the Orioles decided to have him designated for assignment in late November, in what appeared to be purely a cost-cutting move, given they had no one on their roster capable of even coming close to such production. On December 2nd, he was traded to the Miami Marlins in return for a minor league pitching prospect, Easton Lucas.
Villar played regularly in his month and a bit with the Marlins at the start of the 2020 season, being one of the players who was not infected in the team's COVID-19 outbreak that forced them into idleness for 10 days in late July and early August. In 30 games, he hit .259 and his 9 stolen bases led the National League, although so did his 5 caught stealings. He had scored 10 runs and driven in 9 while splitting time between SS and 2B. The Marlins were unexpectedly in a postseason race when the trading deadline rolled around on August 31st, but still decided that Villar was expendable, sending him to the Toronto Blue Jays in return for a player to be named later, rumored to be Griffin Conine, son of Marlins icon Jeff Conine. He was joining a team also in contention that badly needed a shortstop with Bo Bichette sidelined with a knee injury.
- NL Stolen Bases Leader (2016)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2019)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2019)
- 50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (2016)
- Joe Trezza: "O's Villar hits for cycle, doesn't even know it: First-base coach delivers the news when SS completes the feat in 9th", mlb.com, August 6, 2019.