On this day in 1969 Fernando Vina was born in Sacramento, California. He went to college at Arizona State before being selected by the Mets in the ninth round (253rd overall pick) in the 1990 draft. He made his major league debut as a Rule 5 pick with the Mariners in 1993, but was returned to New York and played for the Mets in 1994 before being sent to Milwaukee in a trade involving reliever Doug Henry.
Vina played parts of five seasons with the Brewers and was an above-average second baseman when he was in the lineup, but injuries shortened his career in Milwaukee. He was limited to 79 games in 1997 and just 37 in 1999 before the Brewers opted to turn his job over to Ronnie Belliard and ship him to St. Louis. In between those two injuries he made his lone All Star appearance as a Brewer in 1998.
All told, Vina was a .286/.349/.389 hitter over 528 games as a Brewer. He's likely better remembered as a Cardinal but actually only played 488 games there between 2000 and 2003.
B-Ref estimates Vina's value at 10.6 Wins Above Replacement (rWAR) over his 12 major league seasons. The nine players the Brewers selected before he came off the board in the 1990 draft were estimated to be worth a combined -1.2 WAR. The Brewers only drafted three players that season who ever appeared in the majors, and none that played in more than 33 games.
After leaving the Brewers Vina played four seasons as a Cardinal and one partial year as a Tiger. He was also in major league camp with the Mariners in 2006 but didn't make the team. He's since worked as an analyst for ESPN.
Vina turns 43 today. With help from the B-Ref Play Index, we'd also like to wish a happy birthday to:
- 1972 Brewer Jim Lonborg, who turns 70. We covered his birthday in this space last year.
- Seattle Pilot Garry Roggenburk, who turns 72.
- Seattle Pilot and 1970 Brewer Rich Rollins, who turns 74.