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AAI Part Three: Measuring Josh Donaldson's best home runs of 2014

Because you can't do a series on beautiful home runs without the bringer of rain.

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The fact that the Toronto Blue Jays have acquired Josh Donaldson is very much old news at this point. Excellent news, but old news.

Every angle about what he can add to this franchise has been covered, perhaps except for one: the beauty of his home runs. Donaldson might not have quite the same raw power as Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion, but he has deposited 55 home runs over fences across North America in the last two seasons and has done so with flair.

Not only does the so-called "bringer of rain" hit some monster shots, unlike his teammates he is not a dead pull hitter and has home run power to all fields. The Baseball Savant Heatmap below shows where his long balls went in 2014:

As a result of his prolific power, home run variety, and the fact his aesthetic might be novel to some Blue Jays fans Donaldson was the obvious choice for the third part of what is likely a trilogy quantifying the impressiveness of home runs.

In case you've missed either of the previous articles, the following briefly explains the way I will be measuring Donaldson's best home runs of 2014 from yesterday's post on Jose Bautista:

The statistic I came up with, AAI, equally weights four factors: speed off the bat, distance, opposing pitcher quality, and the number of parks the home run would leave. A score of 100 in any of these categories indicates the home run was the best one a player hit, and any score below that is relative to the high-water mark. For now the metric is only designed to judge a player against himself in order to see which of his home runs are the most impressive.

So, let's get started with Donaldson's home run that should instill the third most awe in the viewing public.

Bronze Medal

Date: September 21st

Opposing Pitcher: Miguel Gonzalez

Count: 1-0

Men on Base: One

Game Result: Athletics 8, Phillies 6

Speed Score Distance Score Opposing Pitcher Score Park Score Total AAI
98 99 81 100 378

Not only was this a no-doubter it was a walk-off as well. Donaldson gets bonus points for demonstrating solid bat flip game here, although he isn't in the Puig stratosphere just yet. One thing that'shard to see by watching this video once is just how high this ball hits the facing in left-centre field.

Silver Medal

Date: May 16th

Opposing Pitcher: Zach McAllister

Count: 3-2

Men on Base: Two

Game Result: Athletics 11, Indians 1

Speed Score Distance Score Opposing Pitcher Score Park Score Total AAI
97 92 91 100 380

This home run has a slightly different look to it. It's actually Donaldson's highest long ball of the season, but it also has very good velocity off the bat. While the distance of 411 isn't that extraordinary, hit right down the line it looks like a mile.

Factoring in McAllister's solid performance against right-handed hitters and yet another bat flip it's hard to ask for more. Luckily there is more in the form of Donaldson's most impressive round tripper of the season.

Gold Medal

Date: May 25th

Opposing Pitcher: Dustin McGowan

Count: 3-2

Men on Base: None

Game Result: Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1

Speed Score Distance Score Opposing Pitcher Score Park Score Total AAI
98 100 89 100 387

Perhaps this 448 foot behemoth will serve as a preview of what we can expect to see from Donaldson in 2015 at Rogers Centre. The drive is impressive because of its distance and speed off the bat, but that fact it's to right-centre field makes it truly astounding.

Donaldson's ability to crush the ball to all fields is what makes him a special power hitter. He may have modeled his swing off of Bautista, but he's not a clone and brings a different element to the table.

It would be lovely to leave on that high note, but tradition dictates a demonstration of Donaldson's least impressive home run and I dare not break with a custom that has origins as ancient as last Friday.

29th-Place Medal

Date: July 14th

Opposing Pitcher: Tim Hudson

Count: 0-0

Men on Base: One

Game Result: Athletics 6, Giants 1

Speed Score Distance Score Opposing Pitcher Score Park Score Total AAI
84 77 95 13 269

Donaldson appears to almost mishit this ball and yet it still travels over the wall. That's a testament to his strength, but that type of hit is not easy to replicate. Although San Francisco is a difficult place to hit in general, it has the perfect short right-field porch to accommodate an unspectacular fly ball like the one hit here.

That concludes an examination of Josh Donaldson's home run quality last season.

Next up: Something completely different.