In case you missed it, Josh Donaldson was traded from the Athletics to the Blue Jays in exchange for Brett Lawrie and prospects Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Franklin Barreto. The wise among us immediately saw this as a great deal for the Blue Jays, at least in the short-term, and a puzzling one for the Athletics, at least in the short-term.
Then there were others who disagreed with these assessments. “Orioles Uncensored” perhaps had a good response to them:
For all you saying that Josh Donaldson isn’t an elite 3rd Baseman I have just one question: Are you high?
— Orioles Uncensored (@OsUncensored) November 29, 2014
While no doubt the people @OsUncensored was speaking to may have been Orioles fans who remember the Donaldson/Manny Machado spat of last year, the fact is that many people probably don’t truly understand how good a player Donaldson is. It’s not their fault, after all, Donaldson is a relative newcomer (he’s only played 405 career games) and has played his career in Oakland. His traditional stats aren’t too flashy (his career BA is .268), and last year was his first time as an All-Star.
So here’s a bit of a primer. Donaldson is a 28-year-old 3B (although he has played C in the past) from Florida, although he grew up and went to both High School and College (Auburn) in Alabama. He didn’t grab hold permanently in the majors until 2012, his age 26 season. He didn’t become the type of player who gets into headlines for being traded, though, until his sophomore season in 2013. He hit .301/.384/.499, and his WAR was second-best in the AL, behind only Mike Trout. While his averages were down in 2014, he still was the 2nd best in WAR in the AL, and he had the third best WAR overall across the past two seasons, behind only Trout and Andrew McCutchen. Why? Because WAR doesn’t just hitting- Donaldson is a spectacular fielder, winning the 2014 Fielding Bible Award (a more sabermetric version of the Gold Glove) while being credited with saving more than 30 runs since 2012. That, along with his hitting, make him one of the best 3B in the game.
And those offensive numbers that seem a bit low, by the way, will likely grow. He is now going from O.Co Coliseum- an infamous pitcher’s park- to Rogers Centre, where extra-base hits are plentiful and where the park factors are more favorable for the hitter.
So, that’s who Josh Donaldson is.