In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that speeds up chemical reactions.
Potassium permanganate, for example, speeds up the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. A catalyst remains unaffected during the reaction, and its role, put simply, is to cheer up its friends while promising never to change who it really is.
Baseball has two catalysts, too. Their names are Josh Donaldson and David Price, and they just may be great enough to carry the Jays to their first World Series appearance in 22 years.
First, letâ€™s examine Donaldsonâ€™s impact. There is no question that Donaldson has elevated the players surrounding him in the Blue Jays clubhouse. And itâ€™s not just the batters who are happy, itâ€™s the pitchers, too.
A favorite for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, Donaldson has destroyed opposing pitchers. He has hit 41 home runs, driven in 122 RBIs and scored an eyebrow-raising 121 runs, according to baseball-reference.com.
His ability to come up big is legendary. In typical dramatic fashion, Donaldson pulverized an off-speed breaking ball into the second deck of the Rogers Centre, giving his team a 5-4 walk-off victory against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Donaldson, whom some consider to be the best hitter in the majors, is poised for postseason greatness.
In the American League, Donaldson ranks first in total bases, RBIs and extra bases hits. He is second in runs created, according to baseball-reference.com.
Put simply, heâ€™s an offensive juggernaut who cannot be stopped.
Now, consider David Price. A Cy Young award-winner, Price has dominated with the Jays, going 9-1 with an ERA of 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. Heâ€™s just like Donaldson, only his effects are felt once every five games.
More importantly, Price is averaging 4.83 strikeouts per walk, according to baseball-reference.com. Heâ€™s striking out 10.5 batters per every nine innings. Priceâ€™s numbers are good enough to earn him the â€œaceâ€ rank on the Jaysâ€™ staff.
Donaldson and Price are the two doing the heaviest lifting. Yes, the team has other players who could contribute a great deal when the postseason begins in two weeks. Sluggers like Jose Bautista and pitchers like Mark Buehrle have had great seasons, but itâ€™s unwise to bet on them contributing more than Donaldson or Price.
Team statistics and those of Donaldson and Price show the Blue Jays as being the favorite to win the World Series.
But predictions only go so far. Postseasons are strange, and itâ€™s possible the underdog could topple the favorite in a series sweep. Nevertheless, the joy of a prediction isnâ€™t in getting it right, itâ€™s in the dream of imagining the impossible.