Toronto Blue Jays’ 3B, Josh Donaldson is turning on the heat and making a push to repeat as American League MVP
There was a phrase that was often repeated in Blue Jays Land, one that was often said in disbelief: “Josh Donaldson is a Toronto Blue Jay”. It started back when former GM, Alex Anthopoulos, somehow managed to convince the Oakland Athletics to part with the guy who put up 7.6 and 6.6 WAR seasons in 2013 and 2014 respectively. There were those who could not believe he was to play in Toronto.
When the 2015 season started, the dream continued to grow as we actually got to see him play everyday. All he did was put up an 8.7 WAR season with 41 HR, 123 RBI, 122 runs scored and a line of .297/.371/.568 on his way to winning the AL MVP. With such a great season, it was hard to believe that those outside of Toronto were actually considering that Mike Trout would actually win the award over the Bringer of Rain. Perhaps, what sealed the deal was the series in Anaheim where Donaldson had a much better series and his team won. It was like Donaldson turned on a switch.
Lately, it would appear that that switch has been turned on again. Up until about a week ago, Donaldson was having a solid year. In fact, many felt that his season was statistically better than last season. But, with others like Jose Altuve and Mookie Betts garnering a lot of attention in 2016, Donaldson’s consistent goodness is being taken for granted. He is going to have to work hard to convince voters to look away from those guys. To that end, over the last few games, he’s taken to reminding folks just how good he is.
Over his last 5 games, Donaldson has 6 home runs and 11 RBI. Up until then, he hadn’t made it rain since August 13, the only one since August 6. Look at his wRC+ in each of the last 5 games: 154, 369, 266, 801, 342. These are a massive increase over his previous weeks. He has not struck out at all in his last 4 games. He’s getting on base, driving in runs and scoring them just as effectively. All of this brings his season totals to 34 HR, 92 RBI and a league leading 106 runs. His 2016 line looks much batter than last year: .294/.407/.582.
The question is whether those who get a say in this will feel as though Donaldson is the most valuable player.
Here is the criteria upon which voters must base their decision according to the BBWAA:
“There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.
The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931: 1) Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense. 2) Number of games played. 3) General character, disposition, loyalty and effort. 4) Former winners are eligible. 5) Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.”
1) We looked at his offense, already. Donaldson’s defense has been typically stellar. He’s been worth 5 DRS with a UZR/150 of 10.6
2) Thus far, he has played in 127 games. Whether voters realize (and consider) how many games he could have missed with a jammed thumb or any of the other bumps and bruises remains to be seen.
3) The character part of this is so subjective, but Donaldson has been much quieter this year. He’s not yelling across the field, like last season. Regardless, his personality is one that is respected around the league. His insight into hitting is valued and he’s been a loyal teammate throughout.
4) Winning last season won’t disqualify him from this. In fact, if Trout is any indicator, it may actually help him. The image of an MVP might linger and influence votes this year.
Josh Donaldson is heating up at the right time. For his team, his bat will be extremely important heading into the final month of the season. With just a 2 game lead, they will need him to continue this recent hot pace. If he can, he just might solidify his importance to his team. Just like the recent winning streak has depended a lot on him, Donaldson will factor in heavily to the Blue Jays fortunes down the stretch. Perhaps, that is the definition of an MVP. Perhaps, Josh Donaldson is looking at repeating as AL MVP.
*Featured Image Credit: Bliss Photography @blissnogueira
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