In 2015, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion joined forces on the Toronto Blue Jays and pushed each other to new heights. We sought out the opinions that really matter on them: their own.
Here’s what they had to tell us.
“Well, I think I’m like the fourth MVP to not be intentionally walked throughout the entire season, right? That kind of speaks for itself. Guys are still pitching to me; they’re still trying to mix pitches up, changing speeds and all that. But they’re trying to be more aggressive in the strike zone. And we’ll see—that might change a little bit this year. But the fact of the matter is, when you have me, then you have Jose Bautista, who hit 40 homers last year, [then] you have Edwin Encarnacion, who’s hit over 40, then Russell Martin… I mean, Jesus—it just keeps going, you know what I mean?
“I wouldn’t want to pitch against us. And there were a lot of guys we faced last year who were defeated before they even threw the first pitch. And those guys made their exit pretty quick.”
“It helps me to see the way pitchers throw to Josh and Bautista, because they try to pitch the same way to me. So I have more of an idea when I go to the plate of what they’re going to throw me. Josh and Bautista, they have a plan. I enjoy watching them because they have an unbelievable approach at the plate on any kind of pitch. Breaking ball, fastball, they’re always on time.
“Josh, when he doesn’t feel good at the plate, he likes to watch video. I saw him a lot of times after games on the computer, seeing what he’s doing wrong. That’s what I’ve been doing, too, when I’m struggling or don’t feel good at the plate. I [look at] what I’ve been doing to get ideas and make adjustments.”
“We talk a lot in the dugout, we look at tendencies, we look at comfort zones, we look at tempo, guys who are [pitching] from the windup or from the stretch, guys who have slide steps, guys who go no-look—we communicate and share information and make sure we’re very equipped when we go up to the plate.
“With Josh, I haven’t seen many people hit the ball that hard consistently while getting hits and hitting home runs on any team I’ve played on.
“With Edwin, he’s really patient—he doesn’t go out of his zone a lot, and he makes pitchers come to him. Even in at-bats when he makes outs, he gets good pitches to swing at. I think we all do—we move people over. We don’t sacrifice ourselves with a man on first and nobody out just to get a guy to second, but when the time comes and it’s the right situation, we try to attack our pitches with a specific area of the ballpark in mind.
“Our conscious effort is there to do the right thing at the right time. We have great confidence that that’s the thought process in [our minds] in any situation. With younger guys and other guys during my career, I’ve seen that with less consistency in their approach.”