Blue Jays by the numbers: Could Josh Donaldson's season go down as the best in franchise history?

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Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays (Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)

This past weekend's series pitting the Toronto Blue Jays against the Los Angeles Angels was hyped as a matchup featuring the two leading MVP candidates in the American League: Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson and Angels centre fielder Mike Trout.

As our Ian Denomme wrote over at Big League Stew last week Trout had the slight edge heading into the showdown. There's no question who the star of this particular weekend was though. Donaldson was simply sensational, going 8-for-13 at the plate with a home run and driving in nine runs as Toronto took all three games from the Angels in dominating fashion.

Donaldson is one of 11 qualified .300 hitters in the AL, top-10 in OBP (.370), second in homers (34), and first in runs scored (95) and RBIs (100) all while providing stellar defence at third base.

So we know he's got a shot at being voted MVP, but where does Donaldson's 2015 campaign rank compared to other great seasons by Blue Jays position players?

Going back to 1977, the franchise's first year of existence, there have been just four individual seasons better than what Donaldson has already accomplished going by FanGraphs' wins above replacement. The best season in Toronto's history to date is a tie between 1993 John Olerud and 2011 Jose Bautista, both at 8.1 fWAR.

TOP 10 fWAR SEASONS IN BLUE JAYS FRANCHISE HISTORY:

Rank

Player

Year

fWAR

T-1

John Olerud

1993

8.1

T-1

Jose Bautista

2011

8.1

3

Jesse Barfield

1986

7.5

4

Carlos Delgado

2000

7.4

5

Josh Donaldson

2015

7.2

6

Jesse Barfield

1985

7.0

7

Lloyd Moseby

1984

6.9

8

Fred McGriff

1988

6.6

T-9

Jose Bautista

2010

6.4

T-9

Fred McGriff

1989

6.4

 

Through the first 20 weeks of the season, Donaldson has been worth about 3.6 runs more than a replacement player per week. One run comes out as 0.1 WAR. If Donaldson keeps up his 2015 production rates over the final six weeks of the season, he would finish with an estimated fWAR of 9.4, taking over top spot from Bautista and Olerud by a significant margin.

Including pitchers, only 1997 (10.7 fWAR) Roger Clemens, the first of his back-to-back Cy Young seasons with the Blue Jays, ranks higher.

Should Donaldson continue at his current pace, and there's no reason to doubt his ability to do so, it would also be one of the best seasons in the majors over the last 10 years. The final fWAR totals for Donaldson, Trout, and Bryce Harper in the table below are estimates based off their current run production and prevention numbers.

TOP 10 fWAR SEASONS IN MLB SINCE 2006:

Rank

Player

Year

fWAR

1

Mike Trout

2013

10.5

2

Mike Trout

2012

10.3

3

Alex Rodriguez

2007

9.6

T-4

Jacoby Ellsbury

2011

9.4

T-4

Bryce Harper

2015

9.4*

T-4

Josh Donaldson

2015

9.4*

7

Mike Trout

2015

9.1*

8

Albert Pujols

2008

8.7

9

Ben Zobrist

2009

8.6

10

Andrew McCutchen

2013

8.4

 

Acquiring Donaldson will go down as one of the most important transactions in Blue Jays franchise history whether or not he hoists a shiny MVP trophy at the conclusion of the season. His consistent play with the bat and the glove has put Toronto in a prime position to reach the postseason for the first time since 1993. That's a reward that far outweighs any individual award, even one as meaningful as the MVP.

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Israel Fehr is a writer for Yahoo Canada Sports. Email him at israelfehr@yahoo.ca or follow him on Twitter.