Blue Jays 2015 Year End Awards: MVP


Welcome to the Jays Journal 2015 Year End Awards, sponsored by, well, Jays Journal. Someday maybe we’ll get some of that sweet corporate cash and roll out the Mountain Dew “Blue Jays Thirst Quencher of the Year” but until then, we get to be our own sponsor! Woo!

The Year End Awards have been voted on by the staff here at Jays Journal in ten separate categories that run the gamut of this magical season that the Blue Jays enjoyed in 2015. The results will be revealed daily over the next ten days to match the MLB awards coming out next week. There are some interesting categories, some categories with some conflict and contention, and it’s likely to lead to debates among the denizens of the Jays Nest. However, in this time of uncertainty in the front office and on the field, it is necessary to remember and properly appreciate the past year in Toronto. So let the warm fuzzy feelings return.

To lead off the awards, and to steal MLB’s thunder, we’re opening with the biggest of them all, the Blue Jays 2015 Most Valuable Player. This goes the player who was judged most important to the team’s success in 2015. The key cog, if you will. For those looking for conflict, there will not be any here as this year’s Blue Jays MVP was a unanimous decision:

2015 Blue Jays MVP: Josh Donaldson

Oct 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) hits a two-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the first inning in game four of the ALDS at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

No surprise that one of the candidates for the American League MVP award should take home his team’s MVP award as well, and the staff of Jays Journal threw their full support in naming Donaldson for the honor. There was the feeling among some fans when Donaldson was acquired from Oakland on November 28th, 2014 that he should be the Blue Jays MVP just for moving Brett Lawrie out-of-town. Then-GM Alex Anthopoulos was hailed as a ninja for lifting a top-10 MVP talent to bolster a 3B slot that had to tolerate Juan Francisco playing an unacceptable amount of games at the position last year. Donaldson was expected to provide protection for Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, and he delivered so much more.

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The Bringer of Rain started slow, going 0 for 7 in his first two games, but he didn’t stay silent for long, batting at a .319 clip by the end of April. While his hitting was consistent throughout the season, it was the unexpected power surges that really raised his profile in the league. In series with the White Sox and Twins at the end of May, Donaldson smashed six home runs in those six games. Then, following the Troy Tulowitzki deal, with the eyes of a nation finally turning north, Donaldson went on another wicked tear. In the span of three series with playoff contenders in the Royals, Twins and Yankees, Donaldson knocked another seven balls out of the park, just under half his total hits in the series.

At the end of the year, Donaldson’s line stood at a mammoth .297/.371/.568 with 41 home runs, an American League-leading 123 RBIs, a Major League-leading 122 runs scored, and an American League-leading 352 total bases. Even when he couldn’t get on base, he led the American League with ten sacrifice flies, showing his ability to drive the ball where needed.

He also solidified the left side of the infield defensively. In 2014, a melange of infielders led by Francisco and involving Lawrie, Steve Tolleson, Danny Valencia and Munenori Kawasaki recorded 120 putouts and had a Range Factor (Putouts+Assists through nine innings) of 2.63, a number buoyed by the defense of Kawasaki and surprisingly by Valencia. Francisco was the worst offender, with a fielding percentage of .933, a RF of 2.33 and a Defensive Runs Saved Above Average mark of -17. Donaldson’s Range Factor was a robust 2.9 (The league average was 2.63 in 2015), and he was worth ten DRsSAA, a 27 run swing, in twice as many games as Francisco. Donaldson was a big reason for the Blue Jays’ improved defense in general, handling the hot corner with above-average aplomb.

Next: Keep Up To Date on the Latest Blue Jays Offseason News

It’s not just the writers of this site who have bestowed Donaldson with its top honor for 2015. Donaldson’s peers agreed, and on Monday voted him as not only the American League’s Outstanding Player, but the MLB Player of the Year as well. With The Sporting News already declaring him the 2015 Player of the Year, and the 2015 Hank Aaron Award already on his mantle, it appears as Donaldson won’t have to settle for merely the Jays Journal MVP award. He is poised to become the first Blue Jays since George Bell in 1987 to be named the American League MVP. A fitting tribute for a spectacular season at the plate and in the field.