Donaldson, Price up for top BBWAA awards
TORONTO -- Big years have resulted in big-time recognition for two 2015 Blue Jays: third baseman Josh Donaldson and No. 1 starter David Price. Donaldson was named a finalist for the Baseball Writers' Association of America's American League Most Valuable Player Award, while David Price was named a finalist by the BBWAA for the AL Cy Young Award.
Price joined the Astros' Dallas Keuchel and Oakland's Sonny Gray in the trio of finalists. Donaldson joined Angels center fielder Mike Trout (the reigning AL MVP Award winner) and Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain as a finalist.
The AL Cy Young Award winner will be revealed Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network, with the AL MVP Award winner the following day, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.
Donaldson also is a candidate for Best Major Leaguer and Best Everyday Player in the Esurance MLB Awards. Price is up for Best Major Leaguer and Best Starting Pitcher.
Donaldson, 29, is arguably the favorite to win the MVP after an All-Star season in Toronto that saw him place among the league leaders in every major offensive category. He led the AL with 122 runs, 123 RBIs and 84 extra-base hits, was tied for third with 41 homers and was third with a .939 OPS.
Donaldson's main competition likely comes from Trout, who won the award in 2014 and has finished first or second in every season of his young career. The pair seemingly has been matched up in competition for the award since July, and while Trout struggled for most of August, he bounced back with a strong September.
Trout had the top OPS (.991) in the league, the best slugging (.590), tied Donaldson with 41 homers and trailed only Detroit's Miguel Cabrera with a .402 on-base percentage. According to FanGraphs, Trout was first in the AL with a 9.0 WAR, while Donaldson was second at 8.7. Both players also are exemplary defenders at key positions.
No matter what happens with the final results, there's no question that Donaldson's first season in Toronto was worthy of recognition. He arrived as part of a blockbuster offseason deal with Oakland and immediately cemented himself as a cornerstone of the franchise and a backbone of the 2015 AL East champions. He also displayed a flair for the dramatic, with a .351 average, eight home runs, 40 RBIs and a 1.139 OPS in high-leverage situations.
Price spent less than half of the season in Toronto, but he dominated down the stretch and was equally as effective for Detroit earlier in the season. He led the AL with a 2.45 ERA, was third with 220 1/3 innings, fourth with 225 strikeouts and fifth with a 1.08 WHIP. Price previously won the AL Cy Young Award in 2012 while with the Rays, and he finished second for the honor in '10 and sixth in '14.
The 30-year-old left-hander is the 10th pitcher in MLB history to finish in the top five in voting for the Cy Young Award after getting traded midway through the year. Rick Sutcliffe won the award in 1984, while the other eight are: Jon Lester (fourth in 2014, AL), CC Sabathia (fifth in '08, NL), David Cone (fourth in 1995, AL), Doyle Alexander (fourth in '87, AL), Rick Reuschel (third in '87, NL), Bert Blyleven (third in '85, AL), Tom Seaver (tied for third in '77, NL), Sal Maglie (second in '56, MLB).
The top challenger for Price would seem to be the lefty Keuchel, who helped guide the Astros to an AL Wild Card spot. Keuchel led the league with 20 wins, two shutouts, 232 innings and a 1.02 WHIP. He also finished second in opponents' batting average (.217), third in complete games (three) and fifth in strikeouts. According to FanGraphs, Price had the edge in WAR with 6.4, compared to 6.1 for Keuchel.
Price might not end up with the Cy Young Award, but he pitched like a deserving recipient while with Toronto. He joined the organization prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline in July and proceeded to go 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 crucial starts for a team that had to overtake the Yankees in the division. His presence had a direct impact on the standings, with a perfect 3-0 record in four starts vs. New York.
There were some issues during the playoffs with a 6.17 ERA in four games, but this award is based solely on the regular season. He was one of the most dominating pitchers from start to finish and has set himself up very nicely entering free agency this offseason.