Is it just me, or did it rain much more often in Toronto this year? It seems a lot of precipitation was brought in 2015. The Bringer of Rain certainly lived up to his name. Josh Donaldson put together one of the better offensive season we’ve seen from a Blue Jays player in a long time. As such, he has been recognized as the American League recipient of the Hank Aaron Award.
And, in an interesting bit of trivia, the Blue Jays are in a league of their own when it comes to this award.
According to The Canadian Press (via TheStar.com) the voting for the award comes from baseball fans and a panel of Hall of Famers and Hank Aaron himself. Bryce Harper won in the National League. MLB Commisioner, Rob Manfred had this to say about Donaldson: “Josh played a pivotal role in the Blue Jays’ first playoff season in 22 years, contributing to one of the game’s best lineups.”
Indeed, Donaldson’s role in the Blue Jays AL East winning 2015 season cannot be understated. In 158 games, he tallied the following numbers:
Toronto Blue Jays
Donaldson led the league in runs, RBI, total bases, and even sacrifices. He put up the best power of his career with an ISO mark of .271. According to
, he put up a WAR of 8.8 and an 8.7 mark from
. Donaldson ranked 3rd in the AL in HR, 1st in RBI, 4th in doubles, 5th in hits, 1st in runs, 2nd in slugging.
Of course, Blue Jays fans have become very familiar with Donaldson’s performance. Whether it is hitting an early home run to put his team on the board or walking off the White Sox, we’ve become accustomed to big hits from him. We’ve been chanting “MVP MVP MVP” for months now. When it looked like he was in a dead heat with Mike Trout, we chanted louder. Now that things have separated, we can sit back and congratulate Josh for his performance and each other for our loyalty.
Trout ended his season losing ground in the MVP race against Donaldson, who was surging along, carrying his team to the post season. The fact that the Blue Jays appeared in the postseason for the first time in 22 years will not be lost on MVP voting. In fact, that seems to be the tipping point: a postseason berth. If it were close before, this likely will have garnered Donaldson more votes. He’s going to need to make a bit more room on his mantle.
An interesting offshoot of this conversation is whether or not the Blue Jays should do anything about his contract situation. Donaldson is eligible for arbitration again this year. The club beat him last offseason when he was given $4.3M. But, just like last year, he is definitely going to see a raise coming. Depending upon what he’s seeking, the club very well head to another hearing with him.
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He won’t be a free agent until 2019. Does the club look to lock him up long term to avoid costly pay raises each year? New president, Mark Shapiro has certainly done that before in Cleveland with Yan Gomes and Carlos Carrasco as examples. But, the difference here is that Donaldson will be 30 when 2016 starts. It’s not like the club will be buying out his early years. This unique situation may call for patience. Some wondered if his “late bloomer” status meant that he very well could regress over the next couple years. But, there is no indication that Donaldson is slowing down. In fact, he seems smack dab in the middle of his prime.
But, all of that really should be a discussion for another day. Today, we should all send our congratulations to Josh. He has had a tremendous individual year. As well, he has done wonders for changing the clubhouse for the Blue Jays. As well, he was instrumental in bringing playoff baseball back to Toronto.