Mar 1, 2015; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third basemanJosh Donaldson
(20) during spring training workouts at Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Despite Lawrie’s absence for a third of last season, the Jays managed to slip in at 8th across the Majors in defence at third base. That’s not to say they had great production out of the position because, offensively, they didn’t.
Not including Lawrie; Valencia, Tolleson, Kawasaki and Juan Francisco all shared time at third with all but Francisco providing above average defence. The problem is that Francisco was relied upon for 482.2 innings, the most of any among his colleagues. In that time frame, he posted a lousy -7 DRS.
Luckily, the Jays shouldn’t have to tolerate sub part defence this season at the hot corner. In potentially the top move of the off-season, the Jays acquired Josh Donaldson in exchange for former third baseman Lawrie.
In Donaldson the Jays obtained one of the league’s top defenders. Last season, in 1,320.2 innings, Donaldson saved an impressive 20 runs (20 DRS) which is 21 more than the Jays did last season combined. Additionally, Donaldson was able to do it over the course of a full season, something that isn’t unique to his 2014 season. In the past three seasons he’s averaged 1,109 innings played which is more than two times what any Jays’ third baseman was able to contribute in 2014.
Unquestionably, the Jays will benefit from getting consistent defence from Donaldson who should be slotted in the everyday lineup around 140 times this season.