What if the Dodgers had selected Josh Donaldson in the MLB Draft?
While the Los Angeles Dodgers were busy selecting arms to bolster their pitching depth, one of the game’s premier hitters of the past 10 years fell to the Chicago Cubs with the 48th overall pick in 2007.
Then a catcher out of Auburn University, Josh Donaldson was somewhat of a questionable prospect. Despite having some power in his bat, scouts were not enamored with his hitting ability and were not sure if he would stick long-term behind the plate due to his arm strength. Ultimately, he was profiled as a back-up catcher if he didn’t make a move to the infield. Of course, Donaldson would make it to the Major Leagues (albeit with the Oakland Athletics) as a catcher, but it wasn’t until he made the full-time move to third base and adjusting his swing to mimic Jose Bautista that he truly broke out.
In 2013, Donaldson became a perennial MVP candidate after hitting 24 home runs and driving in 93 RBI on the back of a .301/.384/.499 slash. He would follow that up with a .255/.342/.456 line, 26 home runs and 98 RBI in 2014 before being traded to Toronto, where he won the 2015 American League MVP.
For nine seasons, Donaldson has been worth 41.4 fWAR and owns a lifetime wRC+ of 139 while playing for the A’s, Blue Jays, Indians, and Braves. He’ll suit up for the Minnesota Twins in 2020 after inking a 4-year, $92 million deal this winter.
It’s easy to understand why the Dodgers would pass up on Donaldson given his drawbacks coming out of college and no one knows if he would have made the same adjustments in the Los Angeles system. Of course, the Dodgers ended up with their own stud of a third baseman during that time as well, so it’s hard to feel too badly for missing out here.