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The season that was: Josh Donaldson

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A look at Donaldson’s 2016 season

MLB: ALCS-Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays
An iconic shot of Josh
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Unless Franklin Barreto becomes a star, Alex’s trade for Josh Donaldson will go down as his best.

Josh came into the 2016 season as the reigning AL MVP. Our biggest question was could he win it again.

                                                                                  
Year   Age   G  PA  AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
2016    30 155 700 577 122 164 32  5 37  99  7  1 109 119 .284 .404 .549 .953  152

Surprisingly, his OPS was actually a bit higher (.953 up from .939) than last year. His RBI total dropped, so he likely won’t get many MVP votes.

Baseball Reference has him at a 7.4 WAR (down from 8.8 last year). FanGraphs has him at 7.6 (down from 8.7), giving his a value of $60.7 million to the Jays. FanGraphs has him 3rd in the AL among batters.

He was one of our very few hitters to have a good post season. He hit .417/.462/.666. If only we had a few others who hit we might have gone a bit further.

He hit .261/.413/.546 with RISP.

Josh had a wOBA of .403 (a tiny bit above the .398 of last year) and a wRC+ of 155 (154 last year).

Josh walked a lot more (15.6%, up from 10.3) and struck out less (17.0%, down from 18.7) compared to last year.

His line drive rate was up (21.3%, from 17.3), ground ball rate down (38.2, from 44.8) and fly ball rate was up (40.6%, from 37.9). Fewer of his fly balls left the park (19.8%, from 21.8).

He had slightly less luck on balls in play (.300 BABIP, down from .314).

Josh had slightly reversed left/right splits (.286/.401/.558 vs RHP, .279/.413/.519 vs LHP).

He was much better at home (.297/.414/.590) than on the road (.272/.394/.509).

And, as you likely remember, he was much better in the first half (.304/.418/.598) than in the second half (.257/.384/.481).

Josh Donaldson by month:

April: .292/.387/.646 with 8 home runs and 20 RBI in 25 games

May: .224/.325/.402 with 5 home runs and 9 RBI in 28 games

June: .368/.487/.705 with 6 home runs and 24 RBI in 26 games

July: .316/.440/.579 with 6 home runs and 21 RBI in 24 games

August: .287/.396/.585 with 9 home runs and 18 RBI in 26 games

September: .222/.390/.389 with 3 home runs and 7 RBI in 26 games

He likely should have had some time off in September but we needed him,

Josh was pretty good on defense too. FanGraphs had him at a 5.7 UZR/150, down some from the 9.8 last year. The hip injury had something to do with that. He had 14 errors, for a .961 FA (right about the league average of .959).

FanGraphs had him .2 of a run better than the average baserunner. That’s down from 4.0 runs above the average baserunner last year. Likely the hip slowing him.

His longest hitting streak was 12 games. Longest on base streak 26 games. His longest streak without a home run was 16 games, running from August 31 to September 16.

His favorite team to face? He hit .643/.737/1.286 in 4 games against the Phillies. Among AL teams, he hit .375/.483/1.167 in 7 games against the Twins.

His least favorite? He hit just .107/.242/.107 in 7 games against the Rangers, but he made up for that in the ALDS.


I’m sure my favorite Josh Donaldson moment of the year, was his dash home to win the ALCS (you really should buy the tee shirt) (next time you buy beer ML).

Josh played DH 19 times this year (of course some of those were days when he wasn’t physically able to play third). I like that. I think he should be DHing once a week. Keeping him healthy should be a priority. Josh is very intense, and plays full out, all the time. As he ages, he’s likely to have more injuries like the hip thing he played through this year.

There are choices ahead for the Jays and Josh Donaldson. They have two more years of team control (and relatively cheap contracts). After that the team is going to have to decide if they want to give him the keys to the vaults. I can already see a ‘Donaldson Tax’ line on my Rogers bill.

Along with the decision whether or not they will want to sign him (presuming they don’t decide to trade him before that), about the same time they will be needing to move him across the field, from third base to first (or perhaps DH). All going well, Vladimir Guerrero Jr might be just about ready to takeover the third base job (never count your prospects until they hatch).

It should be interesting to see what the front office decides to do with Josh. If Jose and Edwin both leave this year, Josh would be the new face of the franchise.