Why I Love Josh Donaldson
Let’s start this off the right way. I do not think Josh Donaldson will continue this level of performance. I highly doubt he ends the season with his current BABIP of .361 or a home run per fly ball ratio of 16.3%. Those numbers are both well above his career norms and the league average rates. That means his on base percentage will likely drop a good amount and his home run total will likely not continue on the same trajectory it is currently on. Even with that said, I am a big fan of targeting Josh Donaldson in trades at this point.
I am already in one league where an owner is looking to ditch Donaldson. He thinks his value is at its highest point and moving him now will gain him the most value. Those are the guys I am looking to deal with, because that points to him not believing in Donaldson for the rest of the season.
Now I already said his performance should drop, but there are some very good strides Donaldson has taken to become a more complete hitter. His walk-to-strikeout rate has become a very sturdy 0.66 after posting a meager 0.23 mark last year. His walks are up and strikeouts are down. Any hitter who is able to do this should receive a solid boost in his on base percentage and likely his batting average as well. When Donaldson’s BABIP drops, say to his career mark of .307, he still should have a solid enough batting average to be worthwhile of every day play and a more than adequate on base percentage due to his increased plate discipline. Being on base a hefty amount should allow his run total to continue to improve and his opportunities to steal bags will be more frequent. He is no speed demon, but ZiPS projection system has him nabbing another five bases on the year – not great but that’s fine from third base.
What Donaldson looks like to me is the Kyle Seager of last year. I rode Seager’s performance at second and third base last year in many leagues and while he did have struggles at points, overall he was a very solid fantasy option. Donaldson reminds me of Seager in a number of ways, except I like Donaldson’s power a bit more and speed on the bases a bit less.
Guys like that have tons of value, especially in leagues that career corner infield spots on top of first base and third base. Donaldson’s numbers should drop, but his improvements as a hitter seem real and even when his performance drops he is a player I want to have on my team. It is reasonable to wait on Donaldson and make a move for him if his performance does go down, but there is also a risk in this being the real Josh Donaldson and you missing out on potential value. Donaldson may not be quite this great, but he is still very good and worthwhile of every fantasy owner’s attention.