Toronto Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson: Rightful Heir to the Month of May


Toronto Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson: Rightful Heir to the Month of May

When the announcement was made that the Toronto Blue Jays were sending fan favourite Brett Lawrie and a pair of prospects to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Josh Donaldson last offseason, many scratched their heads because third base was not considered a position of need.

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But those skeptics are nowhere to be seen now, as the trade has paid immense dividends for Toronto through the first two months of the season. The Jays sit at 23-29 in a terrible American League East but if it weren’t for their new third baseman, who knows where they would be.

With his brute strength on the diamond, his adaptability to new areas (he has actually improved his numbers since arriving in Toronto), and his ability to win people over with ease (fans have already dropped MVP chants on him during a post-game interview), Donaldson would fit in quite well in the popular book and television series Game of Thrones. If the 29-year-old were a resident of the Seven Kingdoms, his name would probably be something like this: Josh Donaldson: Patroller of Third Base, Bringer of Rain, and Rightful Heir to the Month of May.

Patroller of Third Base:
Fans in Toronto were spoiled watching Lawrie play defence, as his range and quickness at third frequently landed him on the highlight reel. Well, Donaldson has dropped some jaws of his own with his glove in his first season north of the border.

That’s if he even needs a glove at all.

Donaldson has made his share of errors, mostly due to poor throws, but this is nothing to be concerned about. Even when he does make mistakes in the field, he more than atones for them with his bat.

Bringer of Rain:

Apr 19, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) waits for a pitch during the sixth inning in a game against the Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre. The Atlanta Braves won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Donaldson lives up to his Twitter handle, raining home runs on the Blue Jays faithful on a regular basis. So far, he has taken kindly to the friendly confines of the Rogers Centre, blasting 15 long balls on the young season, a figure that ties him for fourth in the MLB. A right-handed hitter, he knows how to spray the ball all over the field, hitting six home runs to left, six to centre, and three to the opposite field in right.

The statistics become even more impressive when you factor in the timing of the homers. It’s one thing to hit the ball out of the yard in a blowout, but Donaldson has been getting it done in key situations, highlighted by his two ninth-inning home runs off premier White Sox closer David Robertson on May 26 and 27.

In addition to the home runs, Donaldson ranks first in the MLB in runs scored (43), fourth in RBIs (39) and sixth in total hits (63), while maintaining a .372 on-base percentage.

To top it all off, entering play on June 1, the ex-Athletic has posted the sixth-highest wins above replacement total in the majors at 3.18, sandwiched between Mike Trout and Max Scherzer.

Rightful Heir to the Month of May:

Apr 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates as he runs towards home plate after hitting a home run in the 10th inning to give the Jays a 6-5 win over Atlanta Braves at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Remember Edwin Encarnacion‘s ridiculous May in 2014, where he tied Mickey Mantle‘s American League record for home runs in the month with 16? Well, this year’s flavour of the month was Donaldson, who launched 10 homers, scored 25 runs, drove in 23, hit .306 while posting a ridiculous OPS of 1.022.

By comparison, Encarnacion’s numbers were better (33 RBIs, 26 runs, .281 average, 1.132 OPS), but Donaldson’s month was certainly nothing to sneeze at.

“I’ll tell you what, [Donaldson] has been amazing,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “He’s got that knack and that’s why he’s an elite player. That’s not easy to do, consistently like he has been doing. Thank God we’ve got him.”

Who knows what June will bring.

Next: Sanchez Settling in for Blue Jays