Josh Donaldson 2nd Best 3B in MLB?


The MLB Network has a “statistical analysis” machine  called “The Shredder” that uses pure stats to determine the top 10 players at each position.  The “Top 10 Right Now” show consists of analyzing The Shredder’s list as well as analysis from two real-life human beings, Brian Kenny, and a guest analyst.  (h/t to Jason Rollison of

Previously, we saw that Jose Bautista is the 2nd best right fielder, Jose Reyes is the4th best short stopEdwin Encarnacion is the 6th best first baseman (even though he’ll likely see more time at DH) and Russell Martin is the 5th best catcher.

The following installment looks at the Top Third Basemen in Major League Baseball. According to The Shredder, Toronto Blue Jays’ 3B, Josh Donaldson is the 2nd best in all of baseball.

The justification for having Donaldson in the 2nd spot is largely due to his total WAR of 15.5 over the last two season when he burst onto the scene. This WAR is due to monster offensive numbers and great defense! Blue Jays fans will be quite happy with having Donaldson at the hot corner if he can replicate his 2014 numbers. But, former 3B, Mike Lowell says that a move to the AL East may help Donaldson come closer to his 2013 numbers. Rather than hitting in the AL West pitchers parks, he’ll move to places like Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium, not to mention Rogers Centre.

In 2013, Donaldson finished 4th in MVP voting. He had a much more well rounded season hitting .301 with only 110 K. Last season, his overall numbers weren’t as good. His average took a nearly 50pt hit. But, his HR total went up as did his RBI. His K total went up by 20. The seemingly less successful season is a result of a first half  of the season that saw him hit .238. While his average went up in the second half (.280), his power numbers dropped off dramatically with just 9 HR. I thought this was a tad weird given that his second half saw him strikeout less. So, I checked to see if his second half struggles had to do with bad luck. But, his BABIP went from .250 in the first half to .319 in the second.

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  • Before I go down a rabbit hole here, we can simply say that Donaldson struggled at the end of last season to replicate the previous season’s momentum. Despite that, he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. In 2014, among third basemen, Donaldson finished ranked 26th in avg (.261), 13th in OBP (.348), 13th in SLG (.462), 6th in 2B (30), 1st in HR (27), 2nd in RBI (95), 2nd in BB (71) and 4th in K. (There seems to be a discrepancy between’s K totals for Donaldson (120) and that of and (130 each).

    Offense is not the only reason the Blue Jays are thrilled to have Donaldson aboard. His defense is going to help the left side of the diamond greatly. While his offense may have taken a bit of a dip in 2014, his defense did not. He was worth 20 (!) DRS (Defesnive Runs Saved) and put up a UZR/150 of 13.3. For those of us who were in love with the glove of Brett Lawrie, his UZR/150 was 14.9 in 2014, but was worth exactly 0 DRS. Granted, this may be due to the fact that Lawrie missed so much time. But, that is just it. Donaldson will be playing great defense while playing everyday (he played 158 games each of the last two seasons).

    Donaldson’s defensive ratings (according to Fans Scouting Report) show an increase in his abilities at 3rd. His “Instincts” rating has increased from 62 in 2012 to 87 last season. His “First Step” went from 57 to 74, “Hands” increased from 67 to 75, “Arm Strength” went from 69 to 83. His defensive abilities appear to be getting better. Only time will tell how all of this will translate to the new turf at Rogers Centre. There will most certainly be an adjustment period for him as he learns the seems, hops, etc

    The highlight video below shows off what Donaldson brings to the table. Viewers will note the defense.

    The defense shown in this highlight reel shows us that Donaldson is very adept at ranging to his left, which means that Jose Reyes may end up buying Donaldson a few dinners for taking some of the defensive load off of him. Several times, Donaldson went into SS territory to make an outstanding play. This can only help Reyes. 

    More from Toronto Blue Jays News

    There is no doubt the Blue Jays upgraded with the addition of Josh Donaldson. Let’s leave aside the cost for attaining him. Josh Donaldson is an All Star, MVP, Gold Glove candidate. Heading into his age 29 season, the Blue Jays have him under team control for what should be the prime of his career. The club just won its case against him in arbitration and will pay him $4.3M for 2015, which is a bargain for the type of player Donaldson is.

    This represents a significant increase over his $500K salary in 2013. However, if he were being paid according to his actual production and WAR (according to, the Blue Jays would be looking at having to face a 2014 salary of $35.2M! Despite giving him a raise, the Blue Jays are getting off quite easy on this one. They’re getting one of the best 3rd basemen in all of baseball.

    Next: Did A.J. Jimenez Have a Breakout Winter?