TORONTO — Just how good is Josh Donaldson? Tens of thousands of heads were bobbing in approval Sunday as the Toronto Blue Jays third baseman added to his trophy case.
Lineups stretched for blocks almost 2 1/2 hours before first pitch against the Oakland Athletics, Donaldson's former team, with Toronto fans waiting patiently to get their hands on one of 20,000 Josh Donaldson MVP bobbleheads.
Inside the Rogers Centre, awards awaited. And Donaldson's mother, Lisa French, was tasked with throwing out the first pitch before a full house. With Donaldson catching, she found home plate and was rewarded with a hug.
Donaldson, the reigning AL MVP, was presented with his Silver Slugger Award as the best-hitting third baseman in the American League, as well as Players Choice Awards as 2015 Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player to a standing ovation.
The 30-year-old Florida native hit .297 last year with 41 home runs and led the AL in runs (122), RBIs (123), total bases (352) and sacrifice flies (10). He also led the majors with 20 game-winning RBIs to help the Jays finish first in the AL East.
He has not missed a beat this year, slugging his seventh homer of the season Saturday in the Jays' 19th game of the season. It took him 30 games to hit seven last season.
Prior to play Sunday, the six-foot-one 210-pounder ranked first in the AL in home runs (7) and RBIs (19), second in total bases (53), third in slugging percentage (.680), and tied for fourth in total hits (23). Fourteen of those hits were for extra bases.
Donaldson received his AL MVP trophy from 1987 winner George Bell prior to the home opener April 8 against a backdrop of giant MVP letters behind second base. He celebrated by hitting a grand slam that day, only to see Brock Holt match him in an 8-7 Boston comeback win.
The awards show continued Sunday.
Manager John Gibbons handed Donaldson his Players Choice Awards, which are decided by a vote of major leaguers.
In recognition of his outstanding 2015 season, the Major League Baseball Players Trust is donating $70,000 to the charitable organizations of Donaldson's choice, $50,000 of which he has directed to his alma mater Faith Academy in Mobile, Ala.
The Players Choice Awards winners were first announced in November, as selected by players Sept. 16, 2015, in league-wide balloting.
Zack Greinke of the L.A. Dodgers and Washington's Bryce Harper were finalists for player of the year. Seattle's Nelson Cruz and the Angels' Mike Trout were AL finalists for outstanding player.
The Silver Slugger Awards, voted on by the coaches and managers, are given to the most outstanding offensive player at each position in the AL and NL.
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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press