Josh Donaldson won the American League MVP in 2015. In case you hadn't given the calendar a scan lately, that was last year. It's 2016 and it looks as if Donaldson hasn't skipped a beat since finishing last season with a career high 8.7 WAR and 41 home runs.
In his first 10 games, Donaldson is hitting an impressive .325/.372/.775, producing a whopping 0.8 WAR. To put that in perspective, over 160 games played, that would accrue to a 12.8 WAR. That said, don't expect him to keep this pace up; it's nearly impossible to hit this well throughout the entire season. Eventually he's going to go through a Troy Tulowitzki-like slump (too soon?) and things will normalize.
With that in mind, this post is about remembering the week that was for Josh Donaldson. Last season the Jays had the league's best offence scoring nearly 900 runs but this year, so far, it's looked rather weak. In 10 games the team is collectively hitting .224/.301/.383 while striking out in 27.4 per cent of their at-bats--good for fourth in the entire league.
With Donaldson, along with Jose Bautista, the story is different. His five home runs are only second in the entire league to the freak story that is Trevor Story. On Thursday, in an important series defining game, Donaldson drove a ball that I question whether it ever landed. Have a look.
If you're looking for the bad side of Donaldson so far, I guess you could point out the fact that he isn't walking as much as he had in years past. Thus far his walk rate stands at just seven per cent, below his career mark of 10 per cent. Reciprocally, his strikeout rate currently sits at 32.6 per cent. Maybe his .381 BABIP is something else that would support your argument that this isn't real. Unfortunately that would fail to mention that 50 per cent of his balls in play are hit, "hard" according to Fangraphs, even though you don't need batted ball data to confirm what is already blatantly clear to the naked eye.
But, it's possible you could get upset about these underlying numbers and not believe in Donaldson thus far. It sure would be nice if he walked more and struck out less, but that's nit-picking. Any Jays fan should be happy with the production they've got out of Donaldson so far.
Keep in mind that this accounts for only his offensive production. It doesn't touch the fact that he spent a couple games strictly as the designated hitter and thus couldn't flash his Gold Glove worthy defence on a nightly basis.
But Donaldson has no doubt been the Jays top player to start the season. Sure, Bautista had a good week offensively, despite looking hopeless when it came to the defensive side of the game. Ryan Goins even had his moments where it looked like his offensive performance from the second-half of 2015 was here to stay. But neither had the week Donaldson has thus far. Few can at any point throughout the entire season.
If Donaldson's production dries up like a puddle on a mid-summer day, don't fret. We've seen the best there is from the bringer of rain, storming for over a week now.
I have no doubt that it will rain again.