[Ed. Note: We want to welcome Michelle to Blue Jays from Away! Michelle is the founder of Blue Jays After Dark and you can find more of her writing there! We hope you enjoy her first post as much as we did and you can follow her on Twitter @MisheeMore]
After sitting back and truly absorbing Josh Donaldson‘s magical debut season with the Blue Jays, it suddenly dawned on me where I’ve seen this train before. His name is Roberto Alomar.
Now, I’m certainly not comparing their career stats or arguing whether Josh is on pace to enter Baseball’s Hall of Fame where Robbie is enshrined. But, the parallels between their immediate impact to the Blue Jays and the love affair that quickly blossomed between them and fans, are astoundingly similar.
Acquired in the Off-Season
They both came to the Blue Jays via off-season acquisition. Favourite sons were traded away for them. Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff for Alomar. Brett Lawrie for Donaldson. The trades were made to shake up chemistry and spark a stagnant team. Traded not only for their amazing talent, but their natural born leadership skills.
Infielders Who Make the Spectacular Play Look Easy
Robbie is one of the best to ever play second base. He made every play look like a breeze, with his athleticism and glove wizardry. He dove all over the hard SkyDome turf way before Kevin Pillar made it vogue. Precisely, why he won a Gold Glove award for every season he played with the Jays.
Josh is a catcher turned third baseman. Still perfecting his craft, he’s received notoriety for fielding balls with his bare hand, flying into the stands to catch pop-ups and covering more foul territory ground than anyone… learned from his days in Oakland. Josh acknowledges that in his short time with teammate Troy Tulowitzki, the shortstop has helped him tremendously in the field. (It should be a no-brainer to have Tulo mentor you, considering he has the best fielding percentage of any shortstop in history). Josh has yet to win a Gold Glove award, but under Tulo’s tutelage could make it into that conversation this season.
Bat Second in a Potent Lineup
Robbie was a staple batting second in one powerful lineup after another. Alomar set the table for a gluttony of Jays bashers: Joe Carter, Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor and John Olerud. In 1992, Robbie lead his team with a 6.6 WAR.
Josh was eventually cemented in the two-hole for baseball’s best offence of 2015. Behind Tulo, and later Ben Revere, when he wasn’t driving in runs, he was setting the table for sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. These Blue Jays ranked first in nine offensive categories and Josh led the team with a 8.8 WAR.
Quickly Became Fan Favourites
The love affair with Robbie and Josh began very early in their tenures. They fit the model of athlete that Toronto sports fans typically enjoy: humble off the field, intense and electric on it. Both weren’t afraid to show their personality, and their tenacity on every play won over an entire fanbase.
Voted Into the All-Star Game in their First Season with the Blue Jays
When SkyDome hosted its first All-Star Game in 1991, Robbie was voted in as the starting second baseman. The affection for Robbie built to a crescendo that day. His name was announced to a raucous ovation and he choked back tears, looking for comfort in Cleveland Indians catcher and brother Sandy Alomar standing next to him.
In 2015, Josh received the most votes (14,090,188) in All-Star Game history, 3 million more than previous record holder Josh Hamilton. Jays fans (prompted by CBC analyst Don Cherry) did not leave any doubt as to who they felt should start at third base. Josh later said he was touched that a small town kid such as himself could get that much support.
Won a Division Title in their First Season with the Blue Jays
In 1991, Robbie led his team to a 91-71 record and the ALCS vs. the Minnesota Twins, unfortunately losing the series 4-1. He had a great first year with the Jays, that garnered him a Gold Glove award and ranked him 6th in MVP voting.
Josh had a monster 2015 season, powering his team to a 93-69 record and the ALCS vs. the Kansas City Royals. Although, they fell two games short of the World Series, Josh’s contributions were recognized by the league resulting in his first MVP and Silver Slugger awards.
In Robbie’s second season with the Jays, his team stormed their way to a World Series Championship. Wouldn’t it be something if Josh and the current squad did the same this year?
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