Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player’s season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays’ plans going forward.
To be honest, it’s hard to say anything about 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson that hasn’t already been said. The three-time All-Star followed up his 2015 MVP season with another strong outing, leading the Blue Jays to their second consecutive playoff appearance despite fighting some nagging injuries throughout the season.
Donaldson missed only seven games all year and, while he didn’t repeat as the MVP in the American League (he finished fourth in voting), he actually had a slightly better offensive season in 2016. Donaldson significantly increased his walk rate, leading to a .284/.404/.549 slash line. He topped 100 walks in a season for the first time and hit 37 home runs and just missed the 100-RBI mark with 99 runs batted in. Because he was hitting second in the lineup all year, ahead of the likes of Encarnacion, Martin and Tulowitzki (and, at times, Bautista), Donaldson scored 122 runs for the second consecutive year.
Donaldson’s overall value, according to Fangraphs, was down a bit from a massive 8.7 WAR season in 2015 to a still outstanding 7.6 WAR in 2017, mostly due to a dip in his defensive ratings. Fangraphs gave him only two defensive runs saved above average at third base this year while he had 11 last year (and in most calculations, ten runs saved or produced equals one win above replacement).
In the playoffs, Donaldson was one of the few hitters who rose to the occasion in the Cleveland series. He was 2/5 with a double in the Wild Card game while he hit .538/.571/.846 with four doubles in 14 at bats against Texas. Donaldson hit .333/.400/.556 with a double, a home run, and two RBI against Cleveland despite the loss.
Going forward, look for Donaldson to move down in the batting order to get more opportunities to drive runners in with the likely departures of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. The 2017 edition of the Blue Jays will likely have Donaldson stamp on the team even more than the 2016 edition and the Bringer of Rain has become the heart and soul of the Jays.
Josh Donaldson will play the 2017 season under the second year of his two-year, $28.65 million contract and will be eligible for arbitration again in 2018.
Josh Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP, batted .292 in April and hit four home runs in the first seven games of the season. He hit eight total in the first month, then five more during May. He also had two four-hit games in May, including one against Boston with two home runs and five RBI. He had a spectacular June, hitting .368 with an OPS of 1.192. He had six homers and four triples. He hit six more home runs in July, then nine in August, including a three-homer game on the 28th against the Twins.
A sore hip led to an enormous slump at the beginning of September, during part of which he was 0-for-23. He was benched for a few games to recover, then made his triumphant return in Los Angeles with a 3-for-3 game that included 2 doubles and 2 walks. He hit .232 for the month and struck out 22 times.
On the defensive side of things, he logged 1188 innings at third base (and was used as a designated hitter for 19 games). He made several highlight-reel type plays, participated in 27 double plays, and made 14 errors, the most on the team. This resulted in a fielding percentage of .961.
Donaldson finished the season with a .284 batting average, a .404 OBP and a slugging percentage of .549. He hit 37 home runs, 32 doubles and had a career-high five triples. His walk rate also skyrocketed, reaching 15.6% compared to 10.3% in 2015. He placed fourth in MVP voting for the season, behind winner Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and hits leader Jose Altuve. He was given the AL Silver Slugger award for third basemen for the second consecutive year, and played in the All-Star game.
Donaldson hit .417 in the playoffs, with one home run (in ALCS Game 4) and five RBI. This included a four-hit game in Game 1 of the ALDS, when he doubled twice, drove in two, scored twice and also walked once. There was only one game in the playoffs he did not reach base.
His most memorable moment was in the 10th inning of ALDS game 3 when he dashed home after Russell Martin‘s ground ball caused a Rougned Odor throwing error. Donaldson was safe and scored the winning run, clinching the series for the second time in two seasons.
Regular Season Grades
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