Happy New Year everybody! Iāve 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 itās not really a secret since I repeatedly made it clear last year when I professed my love early and often. And it wouldnāt be a secret anymore once I typed it here, would it? Nevertheless, Iām doubling down on my Josh Donaldson star-gazing and, for those of you who didnāt read the title, proclaim that heāll 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, heās the proud parent of an above average walk rate and a below average strikeout rate. Also, heās managed to improve nearly all of his underlying offensive statistics since 2012, when he first started receiving regular at bats. Whether itās the fact that he moved off the catcher position or the magic dust of Billy Beane (donāt 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, āSigns point to yesā but my last one literally read, āBehind an able man. There are always.ā I guess itās still better than the time I got one without a fortuneā¦
If youāve 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 isnāt even an outlandish projection when considering what heās 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.
Iām crossing my fingers that heāll 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