Leader: Jose Bautista. MVP: Josh Donaldson. Masher: Edwin Encarnacion.
All three are could be MVP. Having each of them in the lineup is a nightmare for opposing pitchers. Bautista had one of the most memorable home runs in Toronto Blue Jays history and his bat flip was legendary. Josh Donaldson and his man-bun crushed opponents earning him the American League’s MVP, becoming the first Jay to do so since George Bell in 1987. EE, the man who can carry a team on his back, had one of the most memorable months in Jays’ history when he blasted 11 home runs, drove in 35 and batted a league best .407 in August. Their name registers with everyone associated with the game. Unfortunately, one name from the 2015 Blue Jays is never top of mind; Chris Colabello.
Chris Colabello is a true rags to riches story. As luck would have it, a waiver pickup by the Jays turned out to be one of the most surprising and productive moves of the season. To those hundreds and thousands of undrafted baseball players looking to make that leap from college ball to the professional level, his story is one to pay close attention to. Undrafted out of Assumption College, Colabello battled through seven years and nearly 600 Independent baseball games until getting signed by the Minnesota Twins in 2012. After signing with the Twins, he didn’t stop hitting. A career .304 hitter, he decimated International League pitching on route to winning the league’s MVP award. The following season (2014), he got off to a torrid start and was named the Twins starting first baseman. An undisclosed thumb injury derailed his year and he was eventually sent back down to the Triple A.
Cue 2015 and the ultimate underdog got another opportunity, perhaps for the last time. A rock throughout the season, Colabello came up with big hit after big hit. Yes, he had some unmemorable moments in the outfield, but what do you expect from someone who had rarely played the position at any sort of level. It was his bat you couldn’t do with out. Overall he batted .321 with 15 homers and 54 RBI. His OBP and SLG were an impressive .367/.520 split. More impressive was his consistency. Pre and post All-Star break, the best hitter no one ever heard of, batted over .300 (.325/.315). Aside from an abysmal July (.224), his average never dipped below .268 during any month.
Colabello was not a household name, but you better believe Jays fans everywhere know who #15 is. The guy who came from obscurity to take a city by storm is what baseball dreams are made of. The 2015 Jays were a team of destiny, his was a thing of beauty.