Finally, award season in Major League Baseball is underway. With that, Josh Donaldson is your 2019 NL Comeback Player of the Year. Indeed, Donaldson chose before the season to ‘bet on himself’. Therefore, he signed a one-year, $23 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Braves.
While signing for $23 million might seem like enough security for some to last a lifetime, in baseball it’s a short-term deal that exposes a player to financial risk. In response to that gamble, Donaldson hit the jackpot; courtesy of his bat.
He finished 2019 season with 37 home runs, a .900 OPS and an overall value of 6.1 bWAR. All of this is what led to his peers in the game voting him the prestigious comeback player of the year.
Josh Donaldson has been named Sporting News' 2019 NL Comeback Player of the Year.
— Sporting News MLB (@sn_mlb) October 23, 2019
Equally important, he helped lead the Atlanta Braves to a division title in what was possibly the toughest division in all of the sport. Without Donaldson, his manager Brian Snitker wouldn’t know where to begin; according to what he had to say after he won the award.
“He’s meant the world to this club. I mean, he solidified our team. He lengthened our lineup. He strengthened our club. And quite frankly, he’s one of the best third basemen I’ve ever been around,”
Interestingly enough, Snitker said he entered the 2019 season with a limited knowledge history of Donaldson. Then, he saw the leather work at the hot corner in addition to his explosive offense in the middle of the Braves’ lineup.
“I had no idea what this guy was capable because I’d just seen him in limited action over the course of some interleague games the last few years,” Snitker said, “and I had no idea that the defensive play was as good as it is.”
Finally, one of the most important compliments paid to a player is the effect he has on his teammates. Indeed, this is a quality that makes a great player; that he makes others around him better. Without question, his manager sees this trait in his player.
“The guys feed off of him. As soon as he gets in that dugout before every game it’s like an explosion when he comes up the tunnel, and how he plays.”
Now, Donaldson will enter free agency with his hardware under his arm. Truly, he’s a warrior of a player in every sense of the word and one of the true gamers in the sport. This is a well deserved placement by his peers in the game. In my opinion, they got this one right.