ARLINGTON, Texas – Oakland A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson is enjoying the type of season that generates American League Most Valuable Player discussion.
True, his chances of winning the award might be slim. There are other candidates with much bigger names and reputations, such as Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera. It doesn’t help that the A’s, as a team, have the reputation of a small-payroll club that finds success through the group contributions of several mid-level players as opposed to one or two superstars.
But Donaldson, who homered in the A’s 5-1 victory Sunday over the Texas Rangers, is posting numbers that are tough to ignore. A’s manager Bob Melvin spoke to Donaldson’s importance to his club.
“He has meant a lot to this team,” Melvin said. “There are different guys that are instrumental in different facets. But if you’re looking at his body of work, he’s probably been our most consistent performer and productive guy throughout the course of the whole season. … I can’t sit here and say that anybody has been more important to this team than Josh.”
Donaldson leads the team in RBI (88), leads Oakland’s regulars with a .302 batting average and is tied for second with 23 homers. Among A.L. third baseman, Donaldson ranks third in average, fourth in homers (23) and only Cabrera has more RBI.
But his value goes beyond that. He plays excellent defense at a demanding position. He’s also been the best hitter for a team that for much of the season wasn’t getting consistent production from the cleanup spot but still finds itself in first place.
Donaldson has gotten some mention in national outlets as an MVP candidate, including USA Today.
There’s also this truth: The A’s (88-61) currently own the second-best record in the American League behind Boston, and it only makes sense that the best player from the second-best team in the league gets MVP consideration.
Reliever Dan Otero left the A’s after Sunday’s game to be with his wife, Tiffany, in Arizona as she prepares to give birth to their first child. He’s likely to miss a couple of games.