Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Donaldson. What does that group of names mean when they are put together?
That is the order of the players with the most wins-above-replacement (WAR), according to Baseball-Reference, since 2013.
However, for some reason, Donaldson is usually not mentioned in the same conversation as the other two on the list. No, one generally associates Trout and Kershaw with stars like Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen and Robinson Cano.
But what this article will try and get you to see is that Donaldson has done plenty to be seen in the same light as those other perennial All-Stars.
First, let's get it out of the way early, value is arguably the hardest thing in sports to define. It's why there is so much controversy seemingly every year surrounding the voting for the annual MVP award. Does value mean the most talented player, the player with the best stats, the player who plays for a winning team, or something different altogether?
We will probably never know, but for now let's just assume that it is a mixture of the three. Donaldson is ultra-valuable no matter which way you slice it.
He is very talented, there is no doubt about it. He does everything on the diamond and he does it well. He hits for average, he hits for power, he plays excellent defense at a premium position, and he is a tremendously competitive person who does wonders for clubhouse chemistry.
While clubhouse presence is nearly impossible to measure, the Toronto Blue Jays have experienced some impressive improvement since they added Donaldson to their roster. After acquiring Donaldson from the Oakland A's in a surprising blockbuster trade last November, the Jays find themselves only four games behind the AL East-leading Baltimore Orioles in the division standings.
But maybe that's more of a testament to the entire team executing a little better and not solely Donaldson's fabulous play. So how does the Toronto third baseman stack up against the rest of the league?
He has showed his outstanding durability by playing in 89 of his team's 91 games, good for third in all of baseball. His 65 runs scored ranks third in MLB and he is seventh in RBI with 60.
He is one of the best all-around players in all of baseball and plays phenomenal defense at the hot corner. He doesn't get the recognition that Trout, Harper or McCutchen gets, but he should.
When you take into account Donaldson's durability, defensive prowess, hitting ability, and leadership qualities; he's an amazing player. He contributes to his team in seemingly every aspect of the game and he should be recognized accordingly.