Yankees’ Josh Donaldson opens up about struggles and getting back on track this season

josh donaldson, yankees

Last season Josh Donaldson was anything but good with a bat in his hands with the Yankees, but the former MVP isn’t letting that deter him as we head into the 2023 season. I’m just eight days, Opening Day will be upon us, and a new leaf will be turned. Donaldson belted two homers in yesterday’s spring game against the Tigers, and he happened to give a new stance a go. The Bringer of Rain was very open about his struggles, and in a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty, he opened up about how it affected him. 

“Some of the mindset shifts that I’ve been able to take at the plate right now. Been working on mechanics for a while now where I’m not really as worried about the mechanics of it as I am being able to go up there and make decisions on pitches. Sometimes I’ve been wrong, I know. But a lot of times I’ve been on the money, and I’m looking forward to continually taking good at-bats.”

JD to Brendan Kuty in an interview for The Athletic

The Yankees need a big bounce-back 2023 from Josh Donaldson:

If we can get a good version of Josh Donaldson at the plate, he could be back to his valuable ways as the defense continues to speak for itself and play up. However, it may be a bigger task than what he leads everyone to believe. It’s one thing to say “trust the process,” but it’s another thing to go out there and completely flip the script. 

Donaldson is a former MVP and was on track for one of the better careers amongst all active players in the league prior to last season. Then, it all was derailed when he posted a career-worst year at the dish. He hit just 15 HR, posted a 97 wRC+ and .682 OPS — all the worst of his career since his rookie season back in 2012. 

The power wasn’t there, the discipline wasn’t there, and most importantly, the pitch recognition wasn’t there. Donaldson watched countless fastballs float in over the heart of the plate and was either late or didn’t swing at them at all. He also was constantly fooled by breaking stuff and would even sit on sliders and curveballs, only to come up empty. 2022 was truly a nightmare for him. However, he continues to insist that it was an anomaly. 

“I’m here to help our team win in whatever manner that is. I feel like I’ve prepared myself the best possible way for me to go about that. I feel good and I feel confident.” Donaldson certainly doesn’t lack the confidence, nor the raw talent, but Father Time may not be on his side like he suggests. 

Josh Donaldson

Donaldson was once the man on campus but now is fighting for his pride:

The odds of a 37-year-old bouncing back to his former great levels of play are indeed quite low. However, Donaldson is no average baseball player. For a few years there during his peak seasons at the backend of his A’s career, and during his Blue Jays tenure, he was one of the best players in the entire league. From 2013-2017 he posted 31.7 fWAR, averaged a 148 wRC+ per season, and was clobbering roughly 31 HR to boot. 

Sadly, over the years following, he’d fight injuries and various inconsistencies. He’s had his moments since then and is still considered a quality player, just not what he used to be. I don’t think JD even believes that he’ll ever be getting back to where he was, but he certainly isn’t giving up hope. Neither is Aaron Boone for that matter, as the Yankee skipper thinks there’s still plenty in the tank for the thunderstorm conjurer. 

“This is a guy who’s been an MVP and basically a stud throughout his career, and by his standard, (he had) a down year last year. That’s a little shot. But I think that I keep maintaining not only with you guys (reporters), but with him, it’s like, and even putting a scouting lens on it, he’s still got the tools to be a really good hitter.”

Aaron Boone on JD

There’s certainly no one lacking any belief, and there’s extra motivation in the fact that Donaldson is fighting for a job and reps this season. Additionally, if he wants to continue playing this beautiful game, he has to earn his keep. A great year this year in pinstripes will immediately flip the script on what everyone thinks of him. It must be tough dealing with the constant boos and feeling the pressure of millions of fans breathing down your neck. 

All JD can do is put in the effort and hope that his new stance and follow-through are legitimate enough to carry him through this season. He belted 2 HR yesterday afternoon, and if it leads to sustainable success and consistency, then maybe he does have a shot at flipping the script. Only time will tell, and Donaldson sure does know a thing or two about Father Time.

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