What should be a fruitful awards season for Josh Donaldson kicked off in grand fashion Monday with the Blue Jays' slugger being selected as the Player of the Year for Major League Baseball in the Players Choice Awards.
Donaldson was also selected as the American League's Outstanding Player.
The announcements came on MLB Network, and Donaldson reflected on the honors during an in-studio interview.
"It's very humbling," said Donaldson. "There's a lot of great players out there, especially in the National League and the American League as well. Honestly, it's not something I would have thought would happen but I felt like over the course of time, I've been able to perform well enough and the guys I play against every day know why I'm out there -- they know I'm out there to compete."
Though Donaldson's numbers are eye-popping, he also plays with tenacity, as evidenced when he scored from second on a sacrifice fly to the second baseman in September.
"What I try to bring every day is awareness and trying to think through the game of baseball as it's happening and still be able to think slowly while you're moving fast," said Donaldson.
Nelson Cruz (Mariners) and Mike Trout (Angels) were the players Donaldson beat out as the Outstanding Player in the AL.
While Donaldson was by far the centerpiece of the lineup during his years with the A's, pitchers had to come after him given the impact players who hit behind him with the Blue Jays. Donaldson started the majority of his games in the No. 2 spot in the batting order in 2015.
"I didn't get intentionally walked one time the entire year because I had a great hitter hitting behind me in Jose Bautista and another dangerous hitter after him in Edwin Encarnacion," Donaldson said. "I was the guy who was up first and they had to come after me."
In 158 games for the AL East champion Blue Jays, Donaldson hit .297 with 41 homers and 123 RBIs. He added a .371 on-base percentage while slugging .568. The Blue Jays advanced to the AL Championship Series, losing in six games to the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.
Donaldson emerged as an impact player with Oakland in 2013-14, but took it to another level this season, making the Blue Jays look good for acquiring him in a trade for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Franklin Barreto last Nov. 28.
"I definitely think you have that sense that you want to make sure the team you're leaving is missing out on something," said Donaldson. "That's kind of the motivation. Once the season starts, you start getting in that grind and the focus changes and you want to win ballgames for your team."
Donaldson headlines the Blue Jays' nominees for the 2015 Esurance MLB Awards. The All-Star third baseman finds himself vying for honors in five categories, including Best Major Leaguer, Best Everyday Player, Best Defensive Player, Best Play on Defense and Best Play on Offense. He is also a top candidate to win the AL's Most Valuable Player Award.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.