Yankees’ $25 million infielder showing signs of life

josh donaldson, yankees
Jun 6, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) tosses his bat after hitting a solo home run against the Chicago White Sox during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are bracing for a challenging stretch of baseball in the absence of Aaron Judge. However, the return of infielder Josh Donaldson, who commands a $25 million salary, has sparked some optimism, despite coming off his most disappointing professional season in 2022.

During his underwhelming year, Donaldson achieved a batting average of .222 with a .308 OBP, contributing 15 home runs and 62 RBIs. He posted his highest strikeout rate at 27.1% and for the first time since 2012, his walk rate fell below double digits.

While he still managed a 97 wRC+, it was noticeably below the 126 he posted in 2021 with the Minnesota Twins, where he hit .247 with a .352 OBP, producing 26 home runs and 72 RBIs.

Despite these setbacks, Donaldson offers the Yankees a solid defensive presence, at the very least. His recent performances at the plate suggest that there may be more offensive potential left in him.

Before succumbing to a hamstring injury that sidelined him for a significant period, Donaldson played five games. However, his performance in the first three games of June shows promising signs.

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The Yankees may be getting the old version of Josh Donaldson:

Over this brief period, he achieved a .273 batting average with a .333 OBP, a 1.091 slugging percentage, and a 1.424 OPS. He smashed three home runs with four RBIs and managed three hits across 11 at-bats.

Given the substantial salary that Donaldson is earning for the 2023 season, it’s crucial that he provides some form of offensive value. He’s made a series of impressive defensive plays in the past few days, but ultimately, his batting performance will make the difference, particularly when the Yankees are struggling to score.

In Tuesday night’s game against the White Sox, Donaldson drove a ninth-inning home run, offering the Yankees a glimmer of hope. Despite striking out twice, his solo home run presented an opportunity for a comeback, but the Yankees were unable to capitalize on it.

Although age has inevitably taken its toll on Donaldson at this stage of his career, his recent displays of power echo those of his prime years. It seems that he still has the potential to make a positive contribution as the Yankees’ third baseman.