Surrounded by young stars like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson is quietly putting together an impressive second half at the plate for the National League East-leading Atlanta Braves. The 33-year old is hitting just .260 on the year, but since the All-Star break, he’s batting .276 with 16 homers in just 48 games.
The former American League Most Valuable Player has crushed 34 homers on the year in total, with 18 in the first half through 87 games. So to put those power numbers into perspective, Donaldson has almost caught his home run total from the first half of the year with another 27 games to go. He’s also slugging .606 since mid July compared to just .494 in the first half.
He’s also hit some homers at the most crucial times. Donaldson has gone deep on 16 occasions from the sixth inning and later this year, which is usually some of the most clutch moments to come up big for your team with a bomb.
He has been in the absolute zone, showing flashes of his big season with Toronto back in 2015 when smacked 41 homers and hit .297. Donaldson even has a chance of catching his career-best in long balls, needing just seven more bombs to reach that number. With 27 games left and considering how impressive his power has been as of late, it’s definitely possible.[email protected] third baseman Josh Donaldson (@BringerOfRain20) has been one of the @MLB's most productive second-half hitters. @quinnallen23 profiles the former AL MVP's dominant post-ASG performance.Click To Tweet
Let’s take a deeper look at his productive second half.
By The Numbers
The home run totals are the first statistic that people will take notice of when it comes to Donaldson’s post-All-Star break numbers, but it goes deeper than just long-balls. He drove in 45 runs in 87 contests prior to the All-Star break. In the second half alone in just 48 games, he has 34 RBIs. Donaldson has really looked a lot more disciplined at the plate as well. In the second half, he’s drawn 35 walks already. In the first half, he collected just 49 base on balls. Donaldson is waiting for pitches that he wants to hit and if he doesn’t get them, he’s taking the free passes. The Braves slugger has also cut down his strikeout numbers to just 47 in 48 games, compared to 92 strikeouts through 87 games before the All-Star break.
Something that’s really impressive about Donaldson is his ability to spray balls all over the diamond. 13 of his home runs have been to left field, 12 to dead center, and eight to right field. He has power to all fields, which makes it tough for opposing arms to really know how to pitch against him when he can go deep on any given pitch that’s in the zone.
Whether it’s a home run or a double in the gap, he does a really good job of hitting balls where they’re pitched. This spray chart, courtesy of FanGraphs, is clear evidence:
Hitting Baseballs Consistently Hard
Donaldson has an average 92.8 mph exit velocity, which is third in the entire majors. That’s currently a career-best for him, having previously averaged just 92 mph. He’s also squaring up balls on the barrel relatively often. His 50.9 percent hard-hit rate means the baseball is leaving his bat at 95 mph or harder just over half the time he makes contact at the plate.
Donaldson may not have one of the best averages in baseball, but he is putting together a very good season. The 40-homer milestone is definitely in reach for the 33-year old who can still hit a baseball as far and hard as anyone in the game today.
With the postseason slowly approaching, Josh Donaldson’s experience and ability to hit in high leverage situations will be a vital part of Atlanta’s success as they look to make a deep playoff run this October.