Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is the Most Valuable Player in the American League for 2015! After a historic season that gave the Blue Jays a brand new superstar at the heart of baseball’s most feared lineup, the highest individual award has found its rightful home. It all began on the night of November 28th, 2014, when Alex Anthopoulos finally changed Billy Beane’s mind.
The trade was met with the same reaction of nearly any deal: mixed reviews. On one hand, the Blue Jays were parting with trademark Canadian Brett Lawrie and some extremely valuable prospects. On the other, an All-Star calibre third baseman was coming to town with years of team control. Things have worked out just fine.
Playing in exactly 158 games for the third consecutive season, The Bringer of Rain posted an incredible slash line of .297 / .371 / .568. Donaldson set career highs in runs (122), hits (184), doubles (41), home runs (41), and RBI (123). Paired with an elite defensive game, Donaldson was able to produce another career high with an 8.7 WAR. Simply put, the Blue Jays couldn’t have possibly asked for more.
Mike Trout, who narrowly edged Donaldson with a 9.0 WAR, had an MVP-worthy season of his own. In 159 games, the 24-year old posted a slash line of .299 / .402 / 590 with 41 home runs and 90 RBI. Trout didn’t rank out quite as highly as Donaldson in the field, but given his age and elite all-around game, he’s got several MVP Awards in his future.
Donaldson’s persona quickly appealed a nation of baseball fans, toeing the line between blue collar everyman and superstar heartthrob. Alongside young fans with painted-on Jose Bautista beards, Donaldson’s style became the hot new hairdo. (Do people still say ‘hairdo’? No. Oh.)
“I kind of think of it as more of a top knot than a man bun,” he told Melissa Couto of CBC Sports. “But it’s also got a bit of a samurai look to it, which is what I wanted.”
With the unfortunate possibility that one or both of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion could move on following the 2016 season, Donaldson will continue to emerge as the new face of the franchise. Perhaps he already has.
This represents the first American League MVP Award given to a Blue Jay in 28 long years. George Bell‘s 1987 season represented an even longer drought than Toronto’s stretch without a playoff game, so it’s been a joy to see both clocks reset to zero.
Congratulations Josh Donaldson! 2015 A.L. MVP!