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Saturday, November 29, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: JOSH DONALDSON 3B TORONTO BLUE JAYS

The Toronto Blue Jays once again are doing their best to compete in the always rough AL East by all indications through this early Hot Stove season.  After signing free agent catcher Russell Martin to a five-year deal, the Blue Jays completed a surprising swap late Friday for Oakland A's All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson.  The Blue Jays agreed to surrender their own third baseman in the disappointing Brett Lawrie, along with three minor league players in the deal for Donaldson.  The move is a big one for the Blue Jays who get a major offensive upgrade at third base and a near-MVP candidate in Donaldson whose first two full seasons looked like this from a statistical standpoint:

2013:  24 HR 93 RBI 89 R 5 SB .301 AVG

2014:  29 HR 98 RBI 93 R 8 SB .255 AVG

The numbers mentioned above are sure-fire top five fantasy baseball third baseman-worthy and they are especially impressive when you consider Donaldson accomplished this while playing half of his games in the pitching-leaning O.Co Coliseum.  Donaldson now moves to one of the best home run ballparks in baseball in Rogers Center in Toronto and the expected numbers are only going to go north from his especially tremendous 2014. 

In breaking down Donaldson's potential numbers for the 2015 season, let's start with those home runs.  Clearly Donaldson has terrific power and again the fact he was able to hit 29 home runs in Oakland is extremely impressive.  A run at 35 bombs is very likely this season now that he will be operating in Rogers Center for half of his games and a strong push to 100 RBI/RUNS is also very likely since Donaldson will be batting either before or behind the ridiculously scary Edwin Encarnacion/Jose Bautista combo.  If Donaldson hits before those two, 100 runs will be in the offing.  If he bats behind them, 100 RBI should be a lock. 

In addition to the power and runs, Donaldson has some decent speed that could net 5-10 stolen bases.  The Blue Jays are always aggressive on the basepaths and that could help Donaldson give a little bonus there.  The one area which we will have to watch closely is the batting average as Donaldson was a mediocre .255 last season.  Throw out the .301 Donaldson hit in 2013 and put it out of your mind as that number was inflated by a very lucky BABIP numbers, not to be repeated.  Donaldson strikes out at a very high rate (130 whiffs last season) which means hitting .270 could be a challenge.  What I will say is that Donaldson should see an increase from last season's .255 simply due to the ballpark and for hitting either in front of or behind Encarnacion and Bautista.  We would gladly take .270 which is not out of the realm of possibility here but don't look for Donaldson to be a help in that area this season. 

When you put it all together, Josh Donaldson is right there at the top of the fantasy baseball third baseman hierarchy and is fully deserving of an early round draft pick.  He will be a big-time impact player in three categories and is set for his third career-year in a row which is very rare to see due to his new location.  Get on board.

2015 PROJECTION:  .272 33 HR 95 RBI 105 R 7 SB
 
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