The Bringer Of Rain turned into the Bringer Of Tears on Friday night, as Blue Jays fans will mourn the trading of one of the best and most exciting to ever play baseball in Toronto.
Josh Donaldson was traded to the Cleveland Indians mere hours ahead of the waiver trade deadline. In four seasons with the Blue Jays, the third baseman slashed .281/.383/.548 with 116 home runs and 316 RBI in 462 games. He won back to back Silver Slugger awards in 2015 and 2016, an American League MVP in 2015 (while finishing fourth in MVP voting the following campaign), and was twice named to the AL All Star team during his tenure in Toronto.
After coming over from the Oakland Athletics for Brett Lawrie in arguably the most lopsided trade in franchise history, Donaldson quickly developed into a fan favourite due to his flair for late-game heroics, ability to deliver clutch hits and walk-off dramatics, an offensive skillset complimented beautifully by a strong defensive game, and a willingness to seemingly do anything to his body to make an out.
As Donaldson packs his bags for Cleveland, let us unpack his five most memorable Blue Jays moments:
2015 American League MVP
With the Blue Jays a whopping eight games back of the New York Yankees mid-way through July of 2015, Donaldson and the Blue Jays went on an absolute tear, especially in August, when JD knocked in 35 runs and the Blue Jays went 21-6 to storm back and take the American League East pennant by a whopping six games.
Donaldson became the first Blue Jays player since George Bell in 1987 to win the AL Most Valuable Player award and only the second to win it in franchise history.
Late-season, 9th Inning walk-off Versus Rays
Maybe the most memorable of Donaldson’s late-game heroics came in a late September game against the Tampa Bay Rays with the Blue Jays closing in on their first playoff birth since 1993. With the game tied with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth, Donaldson went HAM on a Steve Geltz slider and crushed it over the left field wall to keep Toronto four games up on New York in the division race.
The dinger completed a sweep of the always-pesky Rays and lowered Toronto’s magic number to clinch to four games.
Famous leaping foul-ball grab
Donaldson was making impact play after impact play all through that magical 2015 campaign, and one of his absolute best was with the glove rather than his bat in a mid-June game against those same Tampa Bay Rays. In the bottom of the eighth inning of a scoreless contest, the All-Star third baseman tracked a foul ball before leaping about five rows into the stands and coming up with one of the best (and most important) grabs of that season.
The extension here is beyond ridiculous.
Mad dash home to clinch 2016 ALDS
The Blue Jays were in prime position to topple the Texas Rangers in the ALCS for the second year in a row, leading the series 2-0 with a chance to sweep their way to the championship series. After a couple of fielding misplays and an error from the Rangers, Donaldson made arguably the most famous dash to home plate in Blue Jays history and used his heads-up base running to seal Toronto’s berth in the 2016 ALCS.
It would be the Blue Jays’ last postseason series win of the Donaldson era.
Donalson’s home-run “Hat Trick”
With the Blue Jays in the midst of a tight American League wild card race, Donaldson picked a good time to have a career night as he picked up his first career three-homer game in a late August 2016 clash, capping off Toronto’s sweep of the Minnesota Twins. Donaldson’s two-run shot in the seventh and solo blast in the eighth sealed the Blue Jays’ third come from behind win of the series.
And, in true hockey/Canadian fashion, ball caps littered the Rogers Centre field after the Bringer Of Rain’s “Hat Trick.”
Time to go cry, now.