Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Detroit Tigers and American League All-Star manager Jim Leyland seems more likely to sit on his porch with a cold beer and a lit cigarette like Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino" than to play fantasy baseball, so it's a bit understandably why Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson was left off the All-Star roster.
But that doesn't make it right.
Donaldson has been one of the top players at a star-studded position this season, hitting .319 with 15 home runs, 57 RBI, 48 runs and a .924 OPS.
He ranks third in Yahoo! leagues among third-base eligible players, behind only Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion and ahead of David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Evan Longoria, Matt Carpenter, Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez.
Of the players I listed, Beltre, Longoria and Trumbo also were left off the All-Star roster, so Donaldson has some company on his four-day vacation.
What I hope is that Donaldson's omission from the team ends up getting him more recognition than making the roster ever would.
The 27-year-old former catcher actually began his ascent last season after being recalled in August. He earned a demotion to Triple-A after batting .153 in 98 at-bats as a part-time player from April-June.
After hitting .335 with 13 homers and a 1.000 OPS in 51 games for Sacramento, Donaldson batted .290 with eight homers and an .844 OPS in his final 47 games for the A's.
Over his last 184 professional games (Triple-A included), Donaldson has hit .315 with 36 home runs in 704 at-bats.
After being recalled last season, Donaldson posted an 18 percent strikeout rate, a 6.7 percent walk rate, a 25 percent line-drive rate, a 14.3 percent HR/FB and a .323 BABIP. This year, his K rate is 16.9 percent, his BB rate is 10.4 percent, his line-drive rate is 22.6 percent and his HR/FB is 16.7 percent. The third baseman has benefited from better luck on balls in play than during his final two months last season, as he has posted a .352 BABIP this year. However, even if he experiences worse luck in the second half this season, he'll be no worse than the .290 hitter he was last year.
Donaldson has completely overhauled his approach at the plate. Prior to this year he had posted a chase rate of over 31 percent in his career; this year he's at 26.4 percent. He has also lowered his swing rate on pitches in the strike zone from 69 percent to 65.9 percent since last season.
Even though the third baseman isn't an All-Star, his more patient approach has turned him into a fantasy star, and that's good enough for us.
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