The Oakland A’s have hit a bit of a rough patch after dominating the American League West for most of the season. At six games behind the Los Angeles Angels, their sights appear to be set on the first Wild Card spot. While it’s faltered as of late, their deep roster has given opposing pitchers fits for most of the season.
The A’s feature several solid players, and one bona fide superstar in Josh Donaldson. A former catcher, Donaldson made a name for himself with a sensational 2013 season. In his first full season in the big leagues, the A’s third baseman put together a .301/.384/.499 slash line. He totaled 7.7 fWAR, which was the most in the American League besides Mike Trout. Miguel Cabrera took home the MVP award, but Donaldson had a solid claim as the better all-around player.
After surprising everyone in 2013, Donaldson is back at it again this year. His slash line isn’t quite as impressive, but it’s a very good .253/.343/.461 nonetheless, which comes out to a 130 wRC+. Already this year he’s hit 26 home runs, which is two more than the previous year. As usual, he’s playing fantastic defense at third base. All told, he has 5.6 fWAR, which is the third highest total in the American League.
Despite being one of the best players in baseball over the last two years, Donaldson doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t have great traditional numbers. His .253 batting average doesn’t jump off the page. The slash line is solid on paper, but considering that he plays half of his games in the pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum, it’s that much better.
Because he’s sold out for power by hitting more fly balls, his average is down, but he’s been a very potent hitter regardless. Donaldson’s on-base percentage is strong due to a solid 11.0 percent walk rate. In addition, much of his value is tied up in his defense, which doesn’t get the same attention offensive prowess does.
The 28 year-old Donaldson is the A’s best player. Their roster features a lot of moving parts, as the A’s have relied on maximizing the platoon advantage. However, Donaldson finds himself in the lineup every day. Like the majority of the A’s roster, he was acquired via trade. After moving out from behind the plate, his offensive game has taken off. He’s attained star billing a little later in his career, but it’s time that the rest of baseball recognizes just how good Josh Donaldson is.