Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has officially been named a starter for the American League team at the upcoming All Star Game, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The Toronto Blue Jays knew that they were getting a star when they sent Brett Lawrie and a package of young prospects to the Oakland Athletics for Josh Donaldson, but Donaldson’s immediate impact and All-Star-record vote total are above and beyond.
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Donaldson trailed behind a Kansas City Royal early in the voting process, much like everyone did, with Mike Moustakas taking the early lead. A swell of support from around the country, however, led by Don Cherry’s on-air promotion, catapulted Donaldson to over 14 million votes.
“It’s a big honour to represent this team,” Donaldson told Nicholson-Smith. “It’s an honour to be ticketed by the fans … Honestly I can tell you I would never expect this. I’m kind of mind blown a little bit from it.”
Donaldson’s current slash line sits at .297 / .352 / .527 with 19 home runs and 56 runs batted in. When surrounded by a healthy Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, Donaldson has given the Blue Jays one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball that has begun to run away with the lead in total runs scored.
While he’s not without the odd error defensively, Donaldson has made multiple impact plays and locked down the hot corner, highlighted by his Superman leap into the stands to maintain Marco Estrada‘s no-hitter bid. It didn’t go unnoticed by the man on the mound.
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“Not only the way he hits, but his defence has been really good,” Estrada said. “He deserves it for sure. He’s been the best third baseman, probably in the entire MLB.”
Along with the departures of longtime Jays such as Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind, Casey Janssen and Anthony Gose, the addition of Donaldson was as much about changing the team’s identity as it was about improving the talent level. Donaldson’s impact off the field had earned rave reviews from his teammates and coaching staff, including manager John Gibbons.
“He’s been huge. First off he’s one of the top players in the game. That’s a given. You guys see that every day. But he’s got a different kind of personality, a different kind of mentality. I’ve said before many times that we need it on this ballclub. He’s a guy that keeps pushing, pushing. Never takes an inning off.”
Russell Martin, another part of that identity change, has a chance to be named to the All Star roster along with Jose Bautista when the remaining names are released on Monday. Donaldson is also expected to compete in the new and improved Home Run Derby.