Josh Donaldson was a player that generally garnered no fantasy attention entering the 2012 season. Playing mostly at catcher in the minor leagues, the numbers were solid though unspectacular. For instance, in 947 AB at Triple-A he hit .270 with 48 HR.
However, a shift to 3B gave him an opportunity with the A’s this season (he did have experience there). On the surface the numbers may not jump out at you, but when you dissect them there is reason for optimism. Before we get to that let’s look at his overall stats with Oakland:
274 At Bats
.241 Batting Average (66 Hits)
9 Home Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.289 On Base Percentage
.398 Slugging Percentage
Looking at those numbers would likely make you turn the page to the next player. In fact, you would wonder if Donaldson would even be a consideration for the A’s starting job in 2013. Without looking at the numbers, the latter question has already been answer. Joe Stiglich (via Twitter) recently reporting:
“Switching Sizemore to 2B obviously points to how strongly #Athletics feel Donaldson is everyday answer at 3B, which Beane confirmed.”
In other words, barring a change this offseason he is going to get an opportunity. Now, we need to discuss why fantasy owners should care. Just look at the first and second half splits for the answer:
- First Half – .153, 1 HR, 7 RBI in 98 AB
- Second Half – .290, 8 HR, 26 RBI in 176 AB
Those second half numbers would obviously give him potential value, especially at a shallower position in deeper formats. The question is, can he replicate them?
First, let’s look at the average. He hit .290 courtesy of a realistic .323 BABIP (especially considering how consistently he was hitting the ball with authority, with line drive rates of 23.1% in August and 26.1% in September). Throw in a solid 18.0% strikeout rate, and there is a lot to like.
Granted, he was a .275 hitter in the minor leagues and posted a 19.6% strikeout rate at Triple-A, so there is reason for skepticism. Still you have to think that .265+ is realistic, at a minimum, over the course of a full season.
Now, the power numbers. He played in the Pacific Coast League, so the numbers need to be taken with a little bit of a grain of salt. Still, he had 13 HR over 209 AB in ’12 and showed similar power back in ’10 (18 HR in 294 AB). Obviously, he’s not going to be able to replicate that type of power in the Major Leagues, but would it really be a stretch to think he could hit 18-20 HR given his second half production?
He’s likely going to hit towards the bottom of the order, so the chance for RBI/R are going to be tough to come by. That said, he still has the potential to hit around .270 with close to 20 HR. In deeper formats that has value, even if it is just as a bench option/fill-in player. While losing catcher eligibility hurts, at the tail end of your draft he could have sneaky value.
While others ignore him, look to extract a little under-the-radar value.
Make sure to check out the rest of our extremely early 2013 rankings: