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  1. Donaldson has started 3 games at catcher this year? I need to speak with Yahoo.

    Comment by Trevor — May 15, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

  2. Donaldson in AAA last year: .335/.402/.598 in 234 PA

    Donaldson since being called up to the majors to replace Inge last August: .302/.370/.505 in 362 PA (3.8 fWAR).

    These are obviously some selective endpoints, but Donaldson’s improved performance began well before the 2013 season. And I’d would guess it’s more sustainable than typical improvements at this age given that it has coincided with him moving out from behind the plate.

    Comment by Sam — May 15, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

  3. Yeah, to second trevor – donaldson has absolutely not started at catcher this year, and in fact hasn’t played it at any level since very early last season. And just a bit of additional context – while i doubt that donaldson will keep hitting THIS well, this isn’t an entirely new development. His line last year is hugely dragged down by the fact that he hit like utter shit during april and may, earning himself a demotion to AAA. Supposedly he worked on his swing (though they always say that) but regardless he was destroying the PCL, and from when he got called back up in early august through the end of the season he put up a .290/.356/.489 line in 178 ABs. Combining that with his performance this year, I’m pretty confident that he’ll be an above average hitter going forward. Not that i know shit, really.

    Comment by Raised.eyebrows — May 15, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

  4. Re: line drive rate. Irrespective of rate, when Josh Donaldson hits a line drive, it is absolutely crushed (ala Pedroia), so my assumption/hope is that he has a higher batting average on line drives than the typical player and a higher than average BABIP will be sustainable.

    Also, Donaldson hasn’t played catcher at all this year. He started 3 games there last year before being sent down and re-emerging as our every day 3Bman.

    Comment by Nick O — May 15, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

  5. Thanks for the edit Matt. Very professional of you.

    Comment by Trevor — May 15, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

  6. As catchers go he is super valuable having not played an inning. Melvin can PH Jaso or Norris knowing a fluke injury will still leave him with a 3B that can receive. He’s the backup backup catcher.

    Comment by Tim A — May 15, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

  7. He’s also exciting to watch on defense at third. He may not be on the same level as Longoria or Machado, but he certainly passes the eye test and is above average in the metrics. Not bad for a recently converted catcher.

    Comment by TheGrandslamwich — May 15, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

  8. He started 3 games at catcher LAST year.

    Comment by Don Draper — May 15, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

  9. yes, appears to be a plus at 3B. probably not as good a hitter as he’s been so far in 2013, but if he can manage a 120 wRC+, he’s still a very valuable player.

    Comment by brendan — May 15, 2013 @ 4:22 pm

  10. And his arm is incredible.

    Comment by Blofkin — May 15, 2013 @ 5:10 pm

  11. A’s?

    Comment by Justin — May 15, 2013 @ 5:22 pm

  12. This.

    Donaldson was terrible after he was given the starting 3B job out of ST in 2012 and was sent to AAA in mid-June. He came back up mid-August and was a different hitter. See 1st and 2nd half splits:

    Comment by scatterbrian — May 15, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

  13. Totally agree here. His defense has been outstanding. He made a put-out to first from his knees today against the Rangers that was eye-opening.

    If he keeps it up, I’d love to see Donaldson get some AS/GG chatter. He really plays baseball the way you want to watch it be played.

    Comment by Bab — May 15, 2013 @ 10:59 pm

  14. Donaldson’s success, in large part, has been due to the ability to crush lefties. His wOBA of .522 against lefties can largely be contributed to swinging at 20-60% more of pitches on the inner half of the plate compared to 2012. However, there is absolutely no change in his swinging percentage outside the zone against lefties compared to 2012; although his BB% is up this year against lefties.

    If Donaldson’s swinging percentage has not changed against lefties outside the zone, and his swinging % is actually up, is such a walk rate sustainable against lefties; is such strong contact % sustainable?

    The majority of Donaldson’s plate discipline improvement can be seen against righties, where he is swinging at approximately 20-40% fewer pitches in the zone altogether. That is a positive.

    I agree with you Matt that his plate discipline will be the maint thing to watch, but I’m hesitant to think such success against lefties (particularly his K% and BB%) will continue. And because of this, his overall value will begin to decline.

    Comment by Charlie — May 16, 2013 @ 2:02 am

  15. I’ve noticed that too this year. I’ve looked at Donaldson’s extra base hits on his MLB player page and most of them are extremely hard hit line drives to the left centerfield gap. He’s definitely the type of guy who can maintain a high BABIP.

    Comment by Wayne — May 16, 2013 @ 5:07 am

  16. One point of reference – while in the minors, he did rotate between C and 3B fairly often. The River Cats, like many minor league teams (probably based on certain instructions from the A’s but also necessity depending on the lineups), have commonly rotated certain players around a handful of different positions depending on what they can do. Ahh, versatility!

    But he did catch from time to time at least through some point in July prior to being called back up. I was at a game in Tacoma that month that went 18 innings and he caught every one of them.

    Comment by James V — May 16, 2013 @ 11:32 am

  17. Considering how poorly the entire staff and most of the position players are playing right now, he could quite easily be the A’s rep if he keeps it up another month.

    Comment by Blofkin — May 16, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

  18. Why would the contact rate be unsustainable? You’re pulling from a pretty small sample size, and his contact rates and plate discipline across the board look good. He makes contact on pitches swung at outside the zone at a rate way above average, and his swinging st % is down. I don’t see how any of this is unsustainable just because he’s not more selective against lefties. He’s making more contact, which is the important thing here.

    Comment by Blofkin — May 16, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

  19. Donaldson is indeed for real. Perhaps Charlie is bitter, being that Donaldson was once owned by Chicago?

    Comment by Steve — May 16, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

  20. Comparing Donaldson this year to last year can produce some misleading hypotheses depending on how the numbers are interpreted. He was a COMPLETELY different player after being sent down following his first stint last season, and the numbers are quite staggering. If you compare his numbers from his second stint last year to his numbers this year, you’d see a bit more consistency and I think the underlying implications of this particular article might be a bit different.

    Comment by pkdryan13 — May 26, 2013 @ 1:43 am

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