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The season that was: Josh Donaldson

A look at Donaldson’s 2017 season

Toronto Blue Jays v Boston Red Sox Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Coming into the 2017 season, we had two excellent seasons ofJosh Donaldson with the Blue Jays. He won the AL MVP after the first. The second season was just as good.

Our only question was could he keep up that level of play.

Year   Age   G  AB  R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS
2017    31 113 415 65 112 21  0 33  78  2  2 76 111 .270 .385 .559 .944

So, other than the missed time, due to injury, he had almost exactly the same season again. His three Jays seasons by OPS are .939, .953 and .944.

Baseball Reference has him at a 4.8 WAR. FanGraphs at a 5.0, giving him a value of $39.6 million to the Jays.

He hit .359/.458/.705 with RISP, continuing his trend of hitting well with runners on.

His wOBA was .396 and wRC+ was 149, both with in a few points of his numbers from the last 2 years.

Compared to last year, Josh walked about the same among (15.3%, from 15.6 last year), but he struck out a lot more (22.4%, up from 17.0).

His line drive rate was down (16.7%, from 21.3), ground balls up (41.0%, from 38.2) and fly balls up (42.3, up from 40.6). More of his fly balls left the park (25.6%, from 19.8). And he was 1 for 1 in bunt single attempts. His hard contact rate was down (36.3%, down from a career high of 40.4 last year).

His BABIP was roughly the same as last year’s (.289, down from .300).

Josh hit lefties (.271/.380/.671) slightly better than right-handers (.270/.386/.671).

In a switch from last year, he was better on the road (.278/.390/.592 with 19 homers), than at home (.260/.380/.521 with 14 homes).

Josh’s second half (.276/.386/.606 with 24 home runs) was better than his first half (.261/.383/.484 with 9 home runs).

Josh by month:

  • April: .310/.429/.586 with 2 homers in 9 games.
  • May: .250/.2948/..500 with 1 homer in 4 games.
  • June: .247/.364/.473 with 5 homers in 25 games.
  • July: .216/.355/.352 with 3 homers in 25 games.
  • August: .289/.421/.711 with 12 homes in 27 games.
  • September: .315/.396/.685 with 10 homers in 23 games.

You might remember that, when Josh came back injury, he was wearing a chin guard on his batting helmet. And he wasn’t hitting. He took the guard off, and started hitting.

Defense? FanGraphs has his defense declining. His UZR/150 was -1.1. Over the past four seasons his UZR/150 has gone from 13.3, to 9.2 to 5.7 to the -1.1 this year. If the trend continues, they are going to have to consider moving him across the diamond.

He also made more errors than usual. He had a .949 FA at third base, below the league average of .975.

Josh played 18 innings at short. I didn’t think he looked too terrible there.

FanGraphs had him at 2.4 runs above average on the base paths. He stole 2 bases and was caught twice. He seems to be a smart base runner.

His longest hitting streak was 7 games. His longest on base streak was 17 games. The longest he went with out a home run was 21 games.

Josh’s favorite team to face was the Twins, hitting .433/.500/1.600 with 6 home runs in 7 games.

Least favorite? Well, he hit .091/.231/.091 in 3 games vs the Indians.

Josh hit:

2nd in 74 games.

3rd in 38 games.

Minus the injury, it was another great season for Donaldson. If it wasn’t for the mid-season slump, after the injury, he would have had a better slash line than the last two years.

The big question is: Do we sign him to an extension?

I like watching him play, so I’m good with the idea of an extension. Baseball, beyond everything else, is entertainment and Josh is entertaining. And I think there is a value in keeping someone as a ‘face of the team’. It was good having Jose Bautista around for ten years. I’d enjoy having Josh around for a few more years.

But, I’d also always listen to offers on anyone. I don’t believe in the idea of saying you should trade someone, without knowing what might be offered, but I’m never against trading anyone if the deal is right. I’d want a lot for Josh.

Josh turns 32 in December. At some point his offensive numbers will decline, but he’s likely got a few more years before he turns into a pumpkin. Jose Bautista has OPS numbers of .856 (age 32), .928 (age 33), .913 (age 34) and .817 (age 35), before falling off the edge of a cliff at age 36. I have no idea if Josh will follow Jose’s career path, but I’d feel fairly comfortable with having Josh for the next 4 years.

There are rumors that the Cardinals will make a run at trading for Josh this summer. I’m curious what they would offer.

It should be an interesting off-season.