Happy New Year everybody! I’ve been in hibernation for the most part this offseason, aside from this, but decided to awaken from my slumber to tell you a little secret. Although it’s not really a secret since I repeatedly made it clear last year when I professed my love early and often. And it wouldn’t be a secret anymore once I typed it here, would it? Nevertheless, I’m doubling down on my Josh Donaldson star-gazing and, for those of you who didn’t read the title, proclaim that he’ll be a top tier third baseman for 2014 in OPS leagues.
Did you know this his .883 OPS last season ranked third among regular third basemen (behind Miguel Cabrera and David Wright)? In fact, he finished ahead of guys drafted much earlier than him, including Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, and Ryan Zimmerman. So, what makes me confident in Josh for 2014?
Well, everything really. Compared to the rest of the league, he’s the proud parent of an above average walk rate and a below average strikeout rate. Also, he’s managed to improve nearly all of his underlying offensive statistics since 2012, when he first started receiving regular at bats. Whether it’s the fact that he moved off the catcher position or the magic dust of Billy Beane (don’t ask me to clarify what that is), he seems like a better major league player than his minor league numbers would suggest. Speaking of which, if it is the fact that he permanently moved off the catcher position, does that mean that Joe Mauer is in for a spectacular season? I wish my fortune cookie would simply say, “Signs point to yes” but my last one literally read, “Behind an able man. There are always.” I guess it’s still better than the time I got one without a fortune…
If you’ve made it this far you deserve a projection, so here you go: a .290/.370/.490 line with similar counting stats to last year. In my mind, this isn’t even an outlandish projection when considering what he’s produced in the last season and a half. These numbers would place him somewhere between Longoria and Zimmerman, without the frustrating injury risk. I think he may even have a more valuable season than Wright this year, since Donaldson will likely have more home runs. He can be considered a Beltre-lite, with less counting stats and age.
I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll be undervalued in 2014, with people not trusting his 2013 performance. Seems like his numbers indicate that he could provide third round value in an OPS league 12-teamer, but where would you take him?
Tom Jacks is sporadically on Twitter @votetomjacks