clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Meet Josh "NMG" Donaldson

New, comments
"Do you spot a flaw in my new approach?"
"Do you spot a flaw in my new approach?"
Ezra Shaw

The thing you have to know about Josh Donaldson is that there is no middle ground. Donaldson made the rather Herculean leap from "gawdawful big leaguer" to "stellar big leaguer" in less than three blinks of a ferret's left eye. But as I have pointed out before, Donaldson's minor league career was similar in that he was either great or terrible, and was rarely anywhere in between.

You can peruse Donaldson's minor league ledger here. Donaldson began his minor league career punishing low-A pitching to the tune of .346/.470/.605. However, the next year (2008), when the A's traded for him Donaldson was hitting all of .217/.276/.349 in A-ball. He wasn't young for his league, either; he was 22 years old at this point. Apparently as they dealt for him the A's also flipped a switch (perhaps it also brought a bank of lights on over the left field bleachers). For the A's A-ball affiliate in Stockton, Donaldson finished the 2008 season batting .330/.391/.554.

The point is that when Donaldson is good he is elite, and when he is bad there is virtually no limit to how bad he can be until he turns it around. Which he will, because in fact he is a really good hitter. Watching him in 2012 and 2013, it's hard to imagine how Donaldson could bat .156/.206/.281, but he did just that in 2010. Watching his current 0 for 31, it's difficult to imagine how he could ever get a hit let alone rank as one of the game's finest hitters. But he is.

There is just no middle ground with Donaldson, whose rocky childhood, intense personality and fire, may be at times his greatest ally and at other times his most fierce enemy. I don't profess to know how long this current 0-fer will drag on. What I am more confident in predicting is that there will be a time, very soon, when the 0-fer will seem like a distant memory and we will have to check the box scores to confirm it was not just one of our alcoholic dreams.

The A's are doing the right thing, which is mostly to wait it out and not react like these 31 ABs are anything more than a bummerish slump. Josh Donaldson will be fine. He will usually be fantastic and when he isn't he will have occasional stretches where he is nothing short of dreadful. He just won't ever be average.