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Donaldson's 'D' gets nod with Esurance Award

Third baseman recognized for diving grab in stands with award for Best Play, Defence

TORONTO -- The awards are continuing to pile up for Josh Donaldson as he was named the winner of the Best Play, Defence at the 2015 Esurance MLB Awards for his diving grab into the stands earlier this year.

Donaldson put his body on the line with a fearless headfirst dive during a game against the Rays on June 24. At the time, it preserved a perfect game for right-hander Marco Estrada in the eighth inning and immediately became a favorite for catch of the year.

The diving catch edged out a pair of other highlight-reel plays, including one that involved Donaldson's teammate. Kevin Pillar's scaling the wall in left field at Rogers Centre and Mike Trout's leaping grab in center finished as the top runners-up.

"The last thought that was probably in my head was to try to get over top of the people," Donaldson said earlier this year. "Because it's natural for fans, when the ball is in the stands, for them to reach up and stand up, so I was just trying to get up over the fans to be able to catch the ball."

It's another award in what has proven to be a very busy couple of weeks for Toronto's star third baseman. Donaldson recently won the Hank Aaron Award, a Silver Slugger Award, the Players' Choice Most Outstanding Player Award and the Baseball Writers' Association of America American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Donaldson received most of those awards because of his bat, but defense is a very underrated component of his game. He ranked third among AL third basemen with 11 defensive runs saved, and it was his range that helped make this grab possible.

Toronto was shifted to the right side of the infield when Tampa Bay's David DeJesus lifted a high popup toward the seats down the third-base line. Donaldson had been playing closer to shortstop but made a long run to the wall, then sprawled out headfirst to make the grab.

The play spoke for itself, but it also gave Estrada his 22nd consecutive out of the afternoon. Estrada later went on to lose his bid for a perfect game, but Donaldson did more than his fair share to get him there. According to Statcast™, Donaldson made his first step 0.312 seconds after DeJesus made contact. He covered 80.63 feet and reached a top speed of 16.1 mph.

The Esurance MLB Awards annually honor Major League Baseball's greatest achievements as part of an industry-wide balloting process that includes five components, each of which accounts for 20 percent of the overall vote: media, front-office personnel, retired MLB players, fans at and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) voters.

Individual awards were presented for 22 separate categories, including Best Major Leaguer, Everyday Player, Bounceback Player, Social Media Personality and Postseason Performer. Winners were also recognized for the year's Best Offensive Play, Defensive Play, Moment, Single-Game Performance, Social Media Post, Celebrity Fan and Fan Catch.

Manager and Executive winners will be announced at the Winter Meetings in December.

Nominees were judged on their bodies of work from the entire year -- from Opening Day through the postseason -- and selected after a careful review of all 30 clubs. Winners in all 24 categories receive a Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) trophy.

Toronto also picked up a 2015 Esurance MLB Award for Best Trending Topic as the Blue Jays' comeback in seventh inning of the ALDS Game 5 was the viral event that most captivated the baseball community. Jose Bautista earned the award for Best Play, Offence, with his three-run homer and bat flip heard 'round the world in that game.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Toronto Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson