One way or another, the New York Yankees will be paying Josh Donaldson $25 million for the 2023 season, whether they designate him for assignment or feature him as their starting third baseman on what hopes to be a World Series caliber roster.
Donaldson is coming off arguably the worst season of his career at 36 years old. Across 132 games, he hit .222 with a .308 OBP, 15 homers, and 62 RBIs with a career-high 27.1% strikeout rate and recorded a walk rate below 10% for the first time since 2012, his rookie season.
Even if Donaldson turns back the clock and manages to hit his career averages, that would still land at .265 with a .361 OBP, well above average numbers that represent 134 wRC+.
Unfortunately, at age 37, his best days are well behind him, but he’s doing everything in his power to reverse father time and offer the Yankees at least a portion of the value they were looking for when they acquired him from the Minnesota Twins last off-season.
In fact, Donaldson has made some significant tweaks to his batting stance recently, resulting in a two home run performance against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon.
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Josh Donaldson has tweaked his batting stance:
Based on the fact that Donaldson hit .247 with a .352 OBP in 2021, it is not crazy to think his averages will bounce back a bit, primarily if the change in batting stance provides any benefit.
This spring, he’s hitting .226 with a .314 OBP, posting three homers with seven hits over 31 at-bats. Prior to his phenomenal offensive performance against Detroit, he hadn’t hit the ball in two games, striking out three times over six at-bats.
One solid performance shouldn’t convince us of a resurgent season late in his career, but making minor tweaks could fuel growth in a few specific categories.
Donaldson‘s production isn’t solely connected to his stance but rather his confidence in the batter’s box and ability to take pitches. Experiencing a 6.1% increase in strikeout rate last year isn’t an anomaly, but the Yankees are clearly confident in his abilities coming off a gold glove calibrate season defensively on the hot corner.