SEATTLE – Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin had a plan to pull Josh Donaldson quickly from Sunday’s regular-season finale and preserve a .300 batting average for his third baseman.
Donaldson had other ideas.
Donaldson stepped to the plate in the top of the first with his average at .301. He drew a walk, keeping his average there, and Melvin sent in pinch runner Jemile Weeks to replace him.
“I wanted to keep him over. 300,” Melvin explained after a 9-0 victory over Seattle. “He said, ‘If I get a hit, I’m gonna continue to play.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re not.’”
The final average is a nice feather in the cap for Donaldson, who completed his first full season in the majors Sunday. He finished with 24 homers and 93 RBI.
Those offensive numbers in and of themselves wouldn’t typically warrant Most Valuable Player talk. But Donaldson has been included among the top pool of AL MVP candidates along with Detroit third baseman Miguel Cabrera, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Davis.
Donaldson has been Oakland’s best overall player all season and has been stellar with the glove.
Melvin trumpeted Donaldson’s candidacy before Sunday’s game, and Donaldson was asked about it afterward.
“It’s awesome to be put in that category with that group of guys,” he said, adding that he owes it to the team’s overall success that he’s even being considered.
Votes for the AL MVP, conducted by the Baseball Writers Association of America, were due Sunday. The winner will be announced in November, with Cabrera and Trout considered the favorites.
Catcher Derek Norris played first base for the first time in the majors Sunday. He started behind the plate but moved to first in the sixth inning. He handled both grounders that came his way and some routine throws too.
“It’s almost like a wide receiver,” he said afterward.
The A’s are getting Norris some work at first as a right-handed option there in case Nate Freiman isn’t completely recovered from an abdominal injury. But Freiman is doing much better and was available off the bench in the Seattle series.
Left-handed hitting Brandon Moss and Daric Barton figure to get the lion’s share of time at first in the ALDS since Detroit will feature a right-hander dominated rotation.
Chris Young, who played enter in place of Coco Crisp, began the day with his average at .199 but went 1 for 3 with a two-run single and finished right at .200.
“We had a good time with it (on the bench),” he said. “Coming in (to the last few games), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t set small goals for myself.”