Josh Donaldson

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Joshua Adam Donaldson
(Bringer of Rain)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Josh Donaldson made his major league debut as a catcher in 2010 but became an All-Star third baseman a couple of years later.

Amateur Career[edit]

Donaldson was an All-State shortstop/pitcher as a senior in 2004 after hitting .515 with 54 RBI, 21 doubles and 15 steals in 32 games. He also set a school record with 11 interceptions in football. Moving on to Auburn University, Josh hit .294/.347/.477 as a freshman and tossed two shutout innings. As a catcher-third baseman in 2006, he batted .276/.331/.487 with 10 homers and 42 RBI in 56 games. That summer, he showed his skill with a wood bat, hitting .302/.382/.456 for the Harwich Mariners in the prospect-laden Cape Cod League. He was 5th in the league in average, just ahead of Mitch Canham. Baseball America rated him the #10 prospect in the circuit, trailing only Matt Wieters among backstops. He joined Dominic de la Osa as the Cape Cod All-Star utility men. He finished third in the Cape Cod league with 11 doubles and was second to Justin Smoak with 15 extra-base hits.

As a junior, Josh batted .349/.444/.591 with 63 runs and 54 RBI in 55 games. He stole 17 bases in 20 tries.

Pro Career[edit]

Donaldson was selected by the Chicago Cubs with the 48th overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft. He was a first-round pick, Chicago's second overall after Josh Vitters. The choice was compensation for the loss of Juan Pierre to free agency. He was signed by scout Bob Rossi for $625,000 and made his pro debut that summer with the AZL Cubs, going 2 for 11 with two doubles and two walks there. After less than a week, he was promoted to the Boise Hawks, for whom he hit .346/.470/.605 with 9 home runs and 35 RBI in 49 games. He led the Northwest League in OBP and fielding percentage by a catcher (.990) while tying for the lead in double plays by a backstop (5). He threw out 39.7% of attempted base thieves, second in the NWL. He lost All-Star honors at catcher to Jonathan Greene. Baseball America rated Donaldson as the #2 prospect in the circuit, between Mat Latos and J.C. Ramirez and as the #7 overall Cubs prospect.

He began 2008 with the Peoria Chiefs, hitting just .217/.276/.349 in 63 games. He was traded to the Oakland Athletics on July 8th with Sean Gallagher, Eric Patterson and Matt Murton in the deal that brought Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin to the Cubs. He then joined the Stockton Ports and went 11-for-26 with 4 homers and 11 RBIs in his first 7 games with the club. Overall, he hit .330/.391/.564 for Stockton to rebound from his sluggish start to the season. He remained hot in the postseason (.413/.518/.804, 8 R, 9 RBI, 10 BB in 12 G) to help Stockton win the California League title. he hit .288 as a first baseman in the Arizona Fall League; in the championship game, he was 3 for 5 with 4 RBI. Baseball America ranked him as the #19 California League prospect, between Sean O'Sullivan and Kellen Kulbacki.

He spent the entire 2009 campaign with the AA Midland RockHounds, hitting .270/.379/.415 with 37 doubles, 80 walks, 9 home runs and 91 RBIs but also 20 errors. He led Texas League catchers in assists (80) but also errors (16) and passed balls (17) (the other four errors were evenly divided between first base and third base). He was four doubles behind TL leader Chris Carter, finishing second in the loop. He also tied for third in walks and was 5th in RBI.

He began 2010 with the Sacramento Rivercats, hitting .269/.320/.522 with 19 RBI in his first 18 games. He then was called up by the A's when they placed Kurt Suzuki on the disabled list on April 30, 2010. He made his major league debut that same day, striking out against the Toronto Blue Jays' Jason Frasor. The next day, he got his first MLB hit, a homer off Dana Eveland. He played 14 games for the A's, hitting .156 with that only homer, with most of his playing time coming as a catcher. He then spent all of 2011 in the minor leagues, hitting .261/.344/.439 with 28 doubles and 17 homers for the RiverCats, splitting his time between catcher and third base.

Donaldson spent most of 2012 making the shuttle between Oakland and AAA Sacramento. While the A's were short of a third baseman because of a season-ending injury sustained by Scott Sizemore in spring training, Donaldson was unable to step into the breach, hitting merely .153 in his first two stints with the club, while Brandon Inge, picked up on waivers from the Detroit Tigers got most of the work at the hit corner. On August 14th, Inge was placed on the disabled list and Donaldson, who was hitting .335 in 51 games at Sacramento, got another call to The Show. He immediately went on a hot tear, going 7 for 14 in his first 4 games back, including a career day on August 17th when he went 4 for 4 and drove in two runs in the A's 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. On August 21st, he started the A's first triple play since 2000 in the 5th inning of a game against the Minnesota Twins, Trevor Plouffe's grounder near the bag at third base, and stepping on it to start the 5-4-3 triple killing. He finished the season with a batting line of .241/.289/.398 with 9 homers and 33 RBI, then went 5 for 17 (.294) with a double as the A's lost the ALDS in five games to the Detroit Tigers.

Josh was the A's undisputed starter at third base in 2013 and many observers felt he should have been named to the 2013 All-Star Game, as he was the team's best offensive player with a .310 average, 16 homers and 61 RBIs. He ended the first half with a game-winning 11th-inning single against the Boston Red Sox on July 14th, after having earlier tied the game with a home run. He was one of the main reasons the A's were in sole possession of first place in the AL West at the All-Star break. He finished the season at .301 with 24 homers and 93 RBIs and was fourth in the voting for the 2013 American League Most Valuable Player Award. He slumped in the postseason, however, going 3 for 21 with no extra-base hits as the A's were defeated by the Detroit Tigers in five games in the ALDS. He had another very productive season in 2014, when he made the All-Star team and hit .255 with 29 homers and 98 RBIs for the Athletics. He was also noted for his often spectacular defense at third base. The A's suffered another early exit from the postseason, this time losing the Wild Card Game to the Kansas City Royals in a wild contest that went into extra innings. Josh was 2 for 5 with a walk in the game, scoring once.

On November 28, 2014, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in an unexpected move, given he was signed for another four years at a very reasonable salary and was right in his prime. In return, the A's acquired four players, 3B Brett Lawrie and prospects Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Franklin Barreto, with the Blue Jays clearly wanting to make a push to break their long postseason drought in 2015. Donaldson clearly did his part, as after 47 games, he was hitting .300 and leading the American League with 35 runs scored, although the Blue Jays as a team were not playing particularly well. On May 26th, he had a memorable day at the plate when he went 4-for-4 with 5 runs scored and 4 RBIs against the Chicago White Sox; two of the hits were homers, one in the 1st inning off John Danks and the second a three-run walk-off shot against closer David Robertson in the bottom of the 9th that gave Toronto a 10-9 victory. On June 24th, he made highlight reels all around the country when he leaped head-first into the stands at Tropicana Field to catch a foul pop-up off the bat of David DeJesus, preserving a perfect game bid by Marco Estrada in the process. He ended up the leading vote-getter for the 2015 All-Star Game, after falling behind the Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas early in the voting; the budding injustice prompted a surge of patriotic pride in Canada, and he ended up with over 14 million votes, succeeding his teammate Jose Bautista who had won the honor the previous year. In mid-August, the Blue Jays visited Anaheim Stadium in what was dubbed as a confrontation between the two leading contenders for the MVP Award; Donaldson stated his case clearly by going 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs in a 9-2 win on August 21st, followed by a 6-RBI performance in a 15-3 beatdown of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the next day. He hit his 34th homer of the year in that game and also became the first player in the majors to reach 100 RBIs. He finished with 123 RBIs, most in the AL, to go along with 41 homers and 122 runs scored. He went 4 for 18 with a double 2 homers, 5 runs scored and 4 RBIs as the Blue defeated the Texas Rangers in the Division Series, then 6 for 23 witb 2 doubles and a homer in Toronto's loss to the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS. After the season, he was voted the winner of the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Donaldson had another excellent season in 2016, as the Jays were again in a tight race for a division title, this time competing against the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. He was named to the All-Star team for the third straight year and on August 28th, he had the first three-homer game of his career, against the Minnesota Twins. His first homer came off Kyle Gibson, then the second, off Pat Light, put the Blue Jays ahead to stay in the 7th, while the third, against Alex Wimmers in the 8th led to hometown fans at the Rogers Centre deluging the field with hats, paying their compliments in a way akin to a hockey crowd celebrating a hat trick. Toronto won the game, 9-6, to complete a sweep of the Twins. He finished the year at .284 in 155 games, with 122 runs, 37 homers and 99 RBIs. He again won a Silver Slugger Award and was 4th in the MVP vote. In the postseason, he went 2 for 5 with a double in Toronto's win over Orioles in the Wild Card Game, and 7 for 13 with 4 doubles, 4 runs and 3 RBIs in a spectacular performance in the Division Series against the Rangers. He scored the winning run in the 10th inning of Game 3 of that series when he ran in from second base on a ground out by Russell Martin when the Rangers unsuccessfully tried to turn a double play. He was then 6 for 18 with a homer as one of the few Jays players to hit well in their loss to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.

In 2017 Josh missed most of spring training with a sore calf muscle. On April 13th, he had to leave a game in the 6th inning when the injury acted up again and he was placed on the disabled list. He had again started well and was hitting .310 and a pair of doubles and homers after 9 games - even though the Jays were struggling as a team, having won only one of those nine contests. He returned to the line-up on May 26th, by which time the Blue Jays were turning things around, as they finished May just one game below .500. On May 30th, he hit a tremendous homer in a 6-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds, a blast that reached the fifth balcony of the Rogers Centre. Then on June 2nd, he hit a pair of solo homers in a 7-5 win over the Yankees. However, June proved to be a frustrating month for the Jays, as they failed on numerous occasions to get to the .500 mark, falling just one game short, and then they began to lose ground steadily. Thanks to a tremendous second half, during which he hit 24 homers and drove in 53 runs, Donaldson finished the year with good numbers (.270, 33, 78) but most of his damage was done when the Jays were no longer in the running. Following the season, on January 12, 2018, he signed a one-year deal worth $23 million, avoiding salary arbitration. It was the largest contract ever granted to a player eligible for arbitration, besting the $21.6 million granted to another former MVP, Bryce Harper, the previous May and also made him the highest-paid player on the team. He was affected with shoulder issues during spring training but started the season with the team and hit .239 with 3 homers over his first 12 games. However, on April 13th, he had to go on the disabled list due to inflammation in the shoulder. He came back to action on May 3rd without seemingly missing a step, as on his first day back, he homered in both games of a doubleheader against the Indians. However, he had to return to the DL on June 1st with a calf issue, and his stay extended well beyond what the Blue Jays were expecting. This stymied their plans to trade him for prospects at the trading deadline. He was only ready to start a rehabilitation assignment in the last days of August, at which point time was running out for a trade. It finally happened on August 31st, when the Jays sent him to the Cleveland Indians in return for what was described as "fringe prospects" and some salary relief, a very modest return for someone who was considered one of the top players in the game only a year earlier. On September 3rd, the Indians placed him back on the DL so that he could be sent to the minors for another rehab assignment, this one with the AAA Columbus Clippers, although it was expected to very short as the minor leagues were winding up their seasons. He made his return to the majors with Cleveland on September 11th, starting at third base and going 0-for-4 in a 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. On October 5th, it was announced that the Indians had sent P Julian Merryweather to Toronto to complete the trade that had brought him to Cleveland. In 16 games after the trade, Donaldson hit .280 with 3 homers and 7 RBIs. He then went 1 for 11 as the Indians bowed out to the Houston Astros in the Division Series.

Donaldson became a free agent after the 2018 season and on November 26th, he signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves for $23 million - the same amount he had earned the year before. Given his recent history of injury, no team was ready to sign him long term, but the Braves' offer had the advantage of not forcing him to take a pay cut. It turned out to be a brilliant move by the Braves, as the veteran was a key contributor to a young team that won a division title in 2019. His production was similar to that of his very best years with the A's and Blue Jays, and he was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year. In 155 games, he hit .259 with 33 doubles, 37 homers, 96 runs and 94 RBIs; his OPS+ was 127 and he finished 11th in the MVP voting. In the postseason he went 3 for 19 with a double and a homer in the raves' loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the Division Series. He was a free agent again after the season and this time was able to reach a long-term deal as on January 14, 2020, he signed with the Minnesota Twins for four years and $92 million.

The Twins were looking to repeat as division winners in 2020 and were counting on Josh for some veteran leadership, but he started off cold, hitting just .182 with 1 homer and 2 RBIs in 7 July games before missing all of August with a calf strain. He showed some of his temper on September 17th, when after disagreeing with umpire Dan Bellino on a called strike, he blasted the next pitch from Reynaldo Lopez of the Chicago White Sox for a tie-breaking homer, but couldn't resist showing up the umpire as he crossed the plate. That display got him tossed from the game, after which he decided to give Bellino his money's worth by dumping a load of dust on the plate, Earl Weaver-style. The White Sox had the last laugh, though, as he was out of the game by the time his turn to bat came up again in a crucial situation two innings later, and the Twins ended up 4-3 losers. He ended the year at .222 in 28 games, with 6 homers and 11 RBIs. However, his OPS+ matched his career norms, at 134 when he was at 135 for his career, so he was still quite productive when he did take the field. However, injuries prevented him from appearing in the postseason.

On May 29, 2021, he was credited with scoring the 2,000,000th run in major league history. There was a lot less hoopla than there had been around the millionth run, scored by Bob Watson back in 1975. In any case, the run came in the 1st inning of game against the Kansas City Royals and he crossed the plate following an automatic double by teammate Nelson Cruz. The total did not include either runs scored in the National Association, or in Negro League games now recognized as being part of the major leagues. But then, Watson's run did not take into account runs scored in the Federal League, Union Association and other circuits, whose records have since been fully integrated into major league stats, in a process similar to what is being done to Negro League numbers.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 3-time AL All-Star (2014-2016)
  • 2015 AL MVP
  • 2-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2015 & 2016)
  • 2019 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award
  • AL Runs Scored Leader (2015)
  • AL Total Bases Leader (2015)
  • AL RBI Leader (2015)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 6 (2013-2017 & 2019)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2015-2017 & 2019)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2015)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (2015)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (2015 & 2016)


AL MVP
2014 2015 2016
Mike Trout Josh Donaldson Mike Trout

Sources[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Mark Bowman: "Donaldson ready to prove GM, Braves right: After two injury-ridden seasons, Bringer of Rain eyes productive 2019", mlb.com, February 17, 2019. [1]
  • Gabe Lacques: "For Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson, production comes easier than security", USA Today Sports, June 5, 2015. [2]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Twins add bruiser to Bomba Squad in Josh Donaldson: 'It's like he's in a heavyweight fight'", USA Today, February 19, 2020. [3]
  • Sarah Langs: "Donaldson scores MLB's 2 millionth run", mlb.com, May 29, 2021. [4]
  • Bob Nightengale: "For Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson, plenty of gain after pain of 2014", USA Today Sports, June 24, 2015. [5]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Josh Donaldson gives Indians more power for October run - if he gets healthy", USA Today, August 31, 2018. [6]
  • Bob Nightengale: "Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins reach agreement on four-year, $92M deal", USA Today, January 14, 2020. [7]
  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson named AL MVP", USA Today Sports, November 19, 2015. [8]
  • Mike Petriello: "Donaldson's free agency is risk worth taking: Only Trout has more WAR over previous six seasons", mlb.com, November 6, 2018. [9]

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