Josh Donaldson Heads to Twinkie Town

Though we’ve known about it for a week now, Josh Donaldson has officially signed with the Twins, which pushes Miguel Sano to first base. Donaldson now joins his fourth team in three years, which is surprising given how good he has been, outside a down, injury-marred 2018. Speaking of 2018, he rebounded off that disappointing performance admirably, proving it was health, not age, that was the issue. He now returns to the American League after a year in Atlanta. What might the change in home park do to his results? Let’s consult the (2018) park factors.

Park Factor Comparison
Team 1B 2B 3B HR SO BB GB FB LD IFFB Basic
Braves 102 101 93 95 99 99 101 99 102 101 101
Twins 104 107 96 104 98 100 102 100 101 101 101

Let’s begin with the hit type factors for right-handed batters. Both Truist Park (Braves) and Target Field (Twins) boosted singles by a meaningful degree in 2018. However, Target did so to a greater degree, which is good news for Donaldson’s BABIP. He has generally bounced around the league average there and his career mark sits at exactly .300. So any help from his home park could really increase his value, as there’s ample room for upside.

Also potentially aiding his BABIP is the doubles factor, which is high at Target, versus close to neutral at Truist. Donaldson has been a pretty good doubles hitter throughout his career, even knocking a career high 41 back in 2015. He doesn’t exactly need the help, but perhaps the park adds an extra double or two, which could lead to an extra RBI. Donaldson hasn’t hit a triple since 2016, so we don’t need to worry about the small difference in factors there.

As usual, the most important factor for fantasy players is for home runs, and we find quite a difference between these two parks. Donaldson gets to move out of a park that reduces homers to one that increases them, resulting in a large swing. While he would be hard-pressed to repeat that career high 25.7% HR/FB rate he’s coming off of, the park switch makes it a bit less difficult to do so.

The strikeout and walk factors are nearly identical, so it’s not worth discussing them. That said, Donaldson’s strikeout rate has jumped above 20% for the last three seasons, while his SwStk% has surged above 12% in the last two. These look like signs of aging, which we would expect as he heads into his age 34 season.

There typically isn’t a whole lot to talk about with batted ball type factors, but there’s even less so here because the line drive and IFFB factors are super close and identical, respectively.

So it’s nearly a clean sweep for Target Field as a dramatically friendlier park to hit in. Bizarrely, the Basic factor is the same for the two parks. That factor is for all hitters, not just right-handed hitters, but still, eyeballing those factors doesn’t quite explain how Truist isn’t lower and Target isn’t higher.

The move to the Twins and Target Field is a clear positive, especially given that the Twins already had a pretty strong lineup. I remain hesitant to pay the premium he’s likely to command in drafts and auctions given his age and spectacular rebound season, but his value is certainly higher now than it had been.

We hoped you liked reading Josh Donaldson Heads to Twinkie Town by Mike Podhorzer!

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Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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stonepie
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stonepie

iirc his nfbc adp was around 100 give or take. you wouldnt bite at that price?