In race with two deserving candidates, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson was named as the winner of the American League Most Valuable Player Award by the Baseball Association of America on Thursday.
It wasn’t as close as many expected it would be, as Donaldson ended up taking home 23 out of the 30 first-place votes. The other seven first-place votes went to defending AL MVP Mike Trout. The Royals’ Lorenzo Cain finished third in the balloting.
Donaldson was quietly one of the better players in the American League from 2013-2014, which is why many were caught off guard when the Athletics traded him to the Blue Jays last winter. The 29-year-old thrived in his new hitter-friendly home this season, batting .297/.371/.568 over 158 games while playing excellent defense at third base. He led the American League in RBI (123) and runs scored (122) while his 41 homers tied Trout for third. His contributions helped Toronto reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993, a factor which surely helped his candidacy.
Trout had a compelling case for a repeat, batting .299/.402/.590 with a career-high 41 home runs. His .991 OPS led the American League and was also the best of his career. He also had the edge in bWAR (9.4) to Donaldson’s 8.8, if that’s your thing. However, it’s hard to complain too much about how this played out. Both were great all-around candidates and you could have justified voting for either.
Trout now has four top-two finishes (one in first, three in second place) in each of his first four full seasons in the majors. Barry Bonds, Yogi Berra, and Stan Musial are the only other players with four straight top-two MVP finishes at any point in their careers, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Donaldson is the second player in Blue Jays history to win the American League Most Valuable Award, joining George Bell (1987). According to ESPN Stats & Info, he’s the first player to win the award in his first season with a new team since Vladimir Guerrero did it with the Angels in 2004.
Complete voting results for the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Award can be found at BBWAA.com.