Is Josh Donaldson the new Paul Molitor? Ignitor v2.0
As the Blue Jays get closer and closer to becoming a playoff team for the first time in over two decades it seems like more and more people are drawing comparisons to our championship years. I happened to be looking at this idea at the player level and noticed a surprising amount of similarities between our beloved Bringer of Rain Josh Donaldson and the Ignitor, Paul Molitor.
Yes, I was just a little Jays fan when Molitor was on the team, but I was instantly drawn to him. Now as an adult I see that same type of player in Donaldson. Here are the observations I have made from watching Donaldson’s first year as a Blue Jay.
Jun 18, 2015; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor in the eighth inning against the St Louis Cardinals at Target Field. The Minnesota Twins beat the St Louis Cardinals 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
First things first, lets point out that both players were additions to an already solid team. Paul Molitor was brought in as a free agent after the Jay’s 1992 World Series victory. Josh Donaldson was brought in this offseason in a trade with the Oakland A’s that is looking like a steal for the Jays already.
Both players were leaders on their previous teams and came into established clubhouses with leaders of their own. Molitor came into a clubhouse that was already boasting players like Joe Carter, John Olerud, Devon White, and Roberto Alomar. Fast forwarding to the present day, Donaldson had a similar dugout to adjust to with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion holding down the fort. Donaldson, like Molitor, is a great off-field influence and teammate, so neither of these players had issues coming into established clubhouses and finding where their leadership and skills could mesh with the team. The chemistry just clicks with these guys.
Lets take a look at their stats and see what fun can be had. Right off the bat, both players have recorded career best seasons as they debut in blue. Molitor finished the ’93 season with a career highs in home runs (22) and RBIs (89) with a .332 batting average that was the second-highest total in his career. Another of Molitor’s elite seasons prior to ’93 was 1987 when he hit .353, but he only played in 118 games compared to 160 in ’93.
Donaldson is obviously not done with this season yet, but he has already shattered a lot of his personal bests. Donaldson already surpassed his personal bests in runs scored (108), doubles (38), and home runs (37). This banner year for Donaldson has made him the talk of the town just like when Molitor became our designated hero (DH).
How about the hardware! Paul Molitor finished 2nd in the Most Valuable Player voting in 1993 and would go on to be the World Series MVP as Toronto rolled over the Phillies. Molitor would lose the season MVP to the Big Hurt Frank Thomas after Thomas had an obscene year at the plate. Molitor was also an All-Star and a Silver Slugger award winner in 1993.
Donaldson has already made his All-Star appearance for the Jays this season and he will definitely lead any MVP conversation as the season wears down. His competition is mainly Mike Trout, who has been in a slump just like his team lately. This might give the Bringer of Rain the final edge in the MVP race as the Jays are attempting to sprint to the finish line and end their post season drought. Donaldson figures to be a primary consideration for the Silver Slugger award at 3rd base and he is probably in the conversation for a Gold Glove as well. Not every third basemen will dive head first into the stands, just sayin’!
Captain Clutch would be an understated nickname for both of these guys. Both players have had their share of walk offs and performed excellently in high-pressure situations. There are also smaller things that Donaldson has done this season that make him the player you want in when the games on the line. Even when it comes to base running, he doesn’t give up. He turned a should-be out for Troy Tulowitzki last week into a sac fly as he bolted home on a fly out to second and scored on an amazing diving slide.
Molitor was also known for having the flair for the dramatic. Don’t forget he was the one that got the hit to move Rickey Henderson over in the 9th inning of the ’93 World Series. That hit would set up Joe Carter for the biggest home run in Jays history. Performing in the clutch comes as naturally as eating a sandwich to these two.
Looking at both players, you can see how both ignite (and ignited) their clubhouses with their character and play. These are looking a lot like the early 90s days, and for Blue Jays fans, it has been way to long. Players like Donaldson lead by example and have fun playing the game. How can it not be fun when your performing like he is this season! Especially when you’re getting compared to a Hall of Fame player like Paul Molitor, who is still crushing it in baseball life as the Minnesota Twins new manager. I hope you all are having as much fun as I am watching some of our possible Hall-worthy players push to the playoffs.
Go Jays Go, and continued success to both Josh Donaldson and Paul Molitor!
All information and stats provided from Baseball-Reference.com
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