All signs were pointing to a bright future in Minnesota.
And to be fair, the club did crack the postseason during the COVID-shortened campaign.
The playoff run came to an end very quickly, but a postseason berth is no small accomplishment.
Unfortunately, the Twins have been one of the most disappointing teams in baseball in 2021, and it remains to be seen where the organization will go from here.
Minnesota is just 43-58 currently.
That’s the worst record in the American League Central division.
The frustrating campaign has been no fault of Donaldson’s, though.
He has met expectations in both of his seasons with the team so far.
In a small market like Minnesota, it’s easy for star players to get swallowed up and become underrated, and it seems like that may be the case with Donaldson right now.
Fans seem to be talking less about the 35-year-old than ever before, even though he is still producing at a high level.
Today, we’re going to give him the attention he deserves.
Since 2015, Donaldson Has Not Finished A Season With An OPS Below .800
If you like OPS, the .800 benchmark is typically a good threshold for whether or not a player had a good season.
For Donaldson, it has been seven years since he last finished a campaign with an OPS below .800.
Over the same span, he has managed an OPS+ of 141.
OPS+ is arguably a better measure of a player’s success than OPS is.
League average for OPS+ is always set to 100, and anything higher is above average while anything lower is below average.
Donaldson’s 141 mark means that he has been 41 percent better than league average since 2015.
That’s a huge sample size, and it’s a great indication of the player that he is.
As a Twin, Donaldson has so far posted an OPS of .843 and an OPS+ of 135.
Josh Donaldson is now third among AL third basemen in OPS, behind only Rafael Devers and Jose Ramirez.
He's slugging .587 with 11 homers in his last 38 games.
And he's played 80 out of 90 games since returning from the injured list in mid-April.
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) July 27, 2021
Even With Age, The Power Numbers Are Still There
Almost every player eventually becomes affected by age, but don’t tell that to Donaldson.
He is in his age-35 season and still looks like one of the best power hitters in baseball.
As recently as 2019, he homered 37 times.
In the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, he went deep six times in just 28 games (a 162-game pace of 35 homers), and this season, he has 16 long balls in 81 games.
⚾️.350 career OBP
⚾️.500 career SLG pic.twitter.com/MYq684IBDO
— Twins Dingers (@TwinsDingers) July 27, 2021
Fans should take note of the fact that Donaldson still looks like an elite hitter, because if the Twins continue to underachieve beyond this season, he could ultimately be traded.
Donaldson will probably be remembered as a superstar once he retires, but he isn’t getting superstar-caliber attention right now.
This is likely a product of some of the factors we talked about (i.e. Minnesota’s small market and the Twins’ shortcomings), but the former MVP still deserves some individual respect.
It will be interesting to monitor the rest of Donaldson’s tenure with the Twins.
Perhaps he could find himself playing in a bigger market sooner than expected.