A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson finished fourth in the American League Most Valuable Player voting announced Thursday, fitting kudos for a player who ranked as the biggest surprise of Oakland’s season.
Donaldson entered the spring having yet to play a full major-league season, but he became an indispensable piece for the A.L. West champs. Despite being denied an All-Star invitation, Donaldson emerged as one of the league’s best at a position that has no shortage of big-name stars.
[RELATED: A's sign Nick Punto to one-year deal]
One of those marquee third basemen, Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, won his second straight A.L. MVP as expected, claiming 23 of 30 first-place votes (385 points total). Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout finished a distant second with five first-place votes and 282 points. Baltimore first baseman Chris Davis was third with 232 points.
Donaldson came in fourth at 222 points, including 14 third-place votes. The Bay Area News Group’s John Hickey actually cast a first-place vote for Donaldson, ahead of Cabrera, Davis and Trout in that order. The fourth-place finish was the highest by an Athletic since designated hitter Frank Thomas also came in fourth in 2006.
Donaldson hit .301, highest among A’s regulars, and added 24 home runs, 37 doubles and a team-leading 93 RBI. He also played standout defense, made all the more impressive considering he didn’t convert from catcher to third base until the start of the 2012 season.
[RELATED: Miguel Cabrera wins second straight AL MVP]
Donaldson ranked third among all major league position players in fangraphs.com’s WAR statistic (wins above replacement), an all-encompassing figure meant to judge a player’s all-around effectiveness. Donaldson was third in WAR behind only Trout and Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the National League MVP.