The unlikeliest MVP candidate

Josh Donaldson came out of nowhere, but he's here to stay

Updated: October 5, 2013, 11:42 AM ET
By Dan Szymborski | ESPN Insider

Josh DonaldsonAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarJosh Donaldson is the biggest reason the A's won their second straight AL West title.

Moneyball is dead. Billy Beane has been exposed. Oakland can no longer compete in a league in which most teams use sabermetrics. They are doomed to face years of last-place finishes.

Two years ago this was a common refrain. The Oakland Athletics had just finished 74-88, their fifth season in a row below .500. But a funny thing happened on the way to last place: the A's never got there. After 94- and 96-win seasons, Beane and his A's again stand on top of the baseball world, and no player is more representative of this success than A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, who just put up one of the most unlikely MVP-caliber seasons in MLB history.