1. Josh Donaldson
When a player is three years away from free agency and the best player on his team, generally he doesn’t think he will be traded and Donaldson was shocked (along with the rest of baseball) to find out he had been traded from Oakland to Toronto as he was before the 2015 season. All he did was post an 8.8 Wins Against Replacement (WAR) which boosted him to the American League Most Valuable Player award for 2015. That 8.8 is more than triple the 2.5 WAR of the three players Oakland received back from him who played in the majors last season (one of them hasn’t played above A ball in the minors).
Donaldson led the American League in runs, RBI, total bases and even sacrifice flies last season. He also added the Silver Slugger award to his trophy case for 2015. The fiery third baseman was also one of the top fielders at third base last season. In 2014 he was a finalist for the Gold Glove award. On June 24, his headlong dive into the stands in Tampa to preserve a Marco Estrada perfect game (then Estrada gave up a hit to the next batter) was one of the highlight plays of the season exhibiting Donaldson’s spectacular athleticism and burning desire to compete at all costs.
If Donaldson can stay healthy, he is sure to be in the mix for MVP in whatever league he plays in for years to come.
Next: Manny Machado