HEAD OVER HEELS
Fans line up for bobbleheads
Just how good is Josh Donaldson? Tens of thousands of heads were bobbing in approval Sunday as the Toronto Blue Jays third baseman added to his trophy case.
Lineups stretched for blocks almost three hours before first pitch against the Oakland Athletics, Donaldson’s former team, with Toronto fans waiting to get their hands on one of 20,000 Josh Donaldson MVP bobbleheads.
Inside the Rogers Centre, awards awaited. Donaldson’s mother, Lisa French, was tasked with throwing out the first pitch to her son before a full house.
Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP, was presented with his Silver Slugger Award as the best-hitting third baseman in the American League, as well as Players Choice Awards as 2015 Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player, to a standing ovation.
The 30-year-old Florida native hit .297 last year with 41 home runs and led the AL in runs (122), RBIs (123), total bases (352) and sacrifice flies (10). He also led the majors with 20 game-winning RBIs, helping the Jays finish first in the AL East.
He has not missed a beat this year, slugging his seventh homer of the season Saturday in the Jays’ 19th game of the season.
Prior to Sunday, the six-foot-one, 210-pounder ranked first in the AL in home runs (7) and RBIs (19), second in total bases (53), third in slugging percentage (. 680), and tied for fourth in total hits (23). Fourteen of those hits were for extra bases.
Donaldson received his AL MVP trophy from 1987 winner George Bell prior to the home opener on April 8. He celebrated by hitting a grand slam that day.
The awards show continued Sunday.
Manager John Gibbons handed Donaldson the Players Choice Awards, which are decided by a vote of major-leaguers. In recognition of his outstanding 2015 season, the Major League Baseball Players Association’s Players Trust is donating $70,000 to the charitable organizations of Donaldson’s choice, $50,000 of which he has directed to his alma mater Faith Academy in Mobile, Ala.
The Players Choice Awards winners were first announced in November, as selected by players.
Zack Greinke of the L.A. Dodgers and Washington’s Bryce Harper were finalists for player of the year. Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and the Angels’ Mike Trout were AL finalists for outstanding player.
The Silver Slugger Awards, voted on by the coaches and managers, are given to the most outstanding offensive player at each position.