The first year of that Brett Lawrie for Josh Donaldson trade seemed to work out okay for the Blue Jays, right?
It may not have been a World Series trophy, but Josh Donaldson will go home with some shiny hardware this season after securing the 2015 American League MVP award.
At season’s end, the award appeared to be all but Donaldson’s to lose, but in recent weeks, there were rumblings the voting between Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout might actually be much closer than initially thought.
It turns out Josh Donaldson won the MVP quite comfortably over Mike Trout. Although Trout arguably had the better numbers, Donaldson helped end the Blue Jays 22-year playoff drought and helped propel them all the way to Game 6 of the ALCS.
In an interview earlier this year, I recall Josh Donaldson describing himself as (and I’m paraphrasing here) being the kind of player that relishes the opportunity to be a thorn in the side of opposing teams. He truly was a pest for the competition, which is probably why he’s a self-proclaimed “baseball rat”.
I’d say most are quite comfortable with saying that Josh Donaldson came to Toronto exactly as advertised … and then some. Donaldson was already and MVP-calibre player prior to being traded over to the Blue Jays, but then moving from the cavernous Oakland Coliseum to the Rogers Centre only played to his strengths.
This was just one of the many reasons why Josh Donaldson won the AL MVP. pic.twitter.com/VyUGR9Xpa6
— Ian Hunter (@BlueJayHunter) November 19, 2015
Josh Donaldson seemed to have no issue whatsoever playing on artificial turf as he made a seamless transition to playing the hot corner. Defensively speaking, he had one of the better seasons by a Blue Jays third baseman.
Donaldson was revered for his leadership qualities in the dugout and the clubhouse, which was a bonus, but the real reason he was the award was for his bat. He hit 28 game-tying or go-ahead home runs this season (which may have simply been a byproduct of where he batted in the order), but the fact remains that two-thirds of his home runs came when the Blue Jays needed Donaldson most.
Josh Donaldson’s 2015 campaign really was historic when it comes to one of the best overall seasons by a Blue Jays player. His WAR of 8.7 is the single highest total by a Blue Jays player ever and really encompassed how big of a contributor Donaldson was at the plate, in the field and on the base paths.
It’s incredible to think that 2015 was only year one of the Josh Donaldson era with the Blue Jays. At the very least, he will play three more seasons in a Blue Jays uniform. So this may only be the beginning of something even more impressive from Josh Donaldson.
Unless the Jays can work out some sort of contract extension, Donaldson will take them to the cleaners at salary arbitration. That seems like a small price to pay to now have the reigning AL MVP winner under team control for three more seasons.
The playoff implications likely weighed heavily on the baseball writer’s decision to go with Donaldson over Trout, and in a very rare instance, this is one scenario which actually favoured the Blue Jays for once.
In other years, it might’ve been difficult to pinpoint the exact moments when the MVP winner displayed those MVP qualities. With Josh Donaldson, there were so many plays and moments which showed why he was the best player in the league this year.
The dive into the stands – scoring on a sac fly hit to second base – the many walk-off home runs – and all those acrobatic plays at third base. Josh Donaldson was simply the best at doing it all in 2015.
Now he has an MVP award with his name on it to prove it.
Image via Fox Sports