Toronto Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson has been vital to their success over the past couple of years, posting consecutive MVP-caliber seasons. In 2016 Donaldson hit 37 HRs with 122 runs and 99 RBIs over 155 games, good enough for a wRC+ of 155 and a monster 7.6 WAR season. He is the model of reliability, only missing 19 games over the past 4 seasons, rarely getting injured, so when an injury report pops up with Donaldson’s name, people should pay attention. He skipped the Blue Jays’ first full workout on February 18th, after feeling discomfort in his right calf following running sprints the previous day. An MRI on Donaldson’s right calf only showed a mild strain, likely grade 1-2, which puts his RTP at 2-3 weeks (from February 19th). Donaldson participated in long-toss and hit in the batting cage on February 24th, which is very good news and sounds like he is on track to start Opening Day.
So why is the calf so important to a baseball player? Well, Donaldson, a right-handed hitter, relies on his right leg/calf for stability and power at the plate. He needs the calf to help get a strong first step when either running to base or pivoting when fielding a ball at third base. A nagging calf injury can zap power, which is what Donaldson is known for, after posting an ISO of .265 last year, a marker of isolated power, which was 10th highest in the MLB last year. Donaldson needs to treat this injury seriously, give it time to heal and not rush back, as Toronto will need him to keep up with the Red Sox this year after losing Encarnacion to the Indians.
[graphiq id=”57h8sS2818h” title=”Josh Donaldson Career Home Runs and RBI” width=”800″ height=”627″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/57h8sS2818h” ]
Fantasy tip: Donaldson has been a top 5 3B the past couple of years and I don’t think that will change in 2017. His ADP is currently 10.7, putting him squarely in the first-round, and you should continue to draft him here with the confidence that this calf injury is mild. The injury should not affect his play this year as long as he backs off it appropriately for the next week or two. If others are backing off him due to the injury news, you should be happy that you read this article, and make their loss your gain. With Encarnacion now departed, and Bautista coming back from an injury-riddled season where he only managed to hit .234 with 22 HRs, Donaldson may be asked to shoulder a greater load than ever before. Keep an eye on injury updates for him as your draft season gets closer.