Because Josh Donaldson led wire-to-wire in fan voting at his position for the American League All-Star team this year, it can be easy to overlook how far and how fast the A's third baseman has come.
A year ago, with some numbers that were better than what he put together in the first half this season, Donaldson wasn't voted onto the team, wasn't picked as a reserve and wasn't added as a last-minute replacement.
On the day the team was announced last season, Donaldson had a .319 average, 15 homers and 57 RBIs. Teammates, family and friends were disappointed that he didn't make it. Donaldson wasn't, and some of those closest to him believed he should have been more upset than he was.
Count his mother, Lisa French, among them. French, who is in Minneapolis this week, had trouble believing he wasn't more riled by the slight.
"I was a little surprised at Josh," French said. "I was mad, I was way, way more disappointed than he was that he didn't make the team. He took it very well. I took it much worse.
"He had to talk to me and say, 'Look Mom, it's OK. I'm just getting started in baseball.' I thought he'd be real disappointed, and I was surprised when he wasn't."
Donaldson's teammates tell versions of the same story.
"He handled it really well," said Brandon Moss, who along with Donaldson is one of seven A's in Minneapolis for Tuesday night's All-Star game. "We were all very disappointed for him, because he absolutely deserved to be there. But he wasn't angry or anything."
Donaldson, instead, spent last year's All-Star break playing golf, his other passion. Out on the course, he retooled his mind for the second half of the season.
"I don't have a real handicap, but I play to about a 4," Donaldson said. "For three or four days, that was my therapy. It was good to get away from baseball. I wasn't upset. I've followed baseball for a long time. I know how things work. I understood that I came out of nowhere last year, and I also understood that we play on the West Coast so that we don't get a lot of the national attention that other teams get.
"Did I think my numbers were deserving last year? Sure. But I didn't have any bitterness that I didn't make it."
There was, after all, golf. But that has its limits.
"It was good, but it was bad for the fact that you never want time off when you're going good," he said. "At that time, I was still continuing to play well. Those four days off definitely didn't help my game. It took me a little bit after the break to get it going again. Still, I ended up getting in the groove again."
Some of that groove has carried over to this year. He's among the league leaders in runs (61), RBIs (65) and homers (20) even though his batting average (.238) has taken a beating. But the A's have long been believers that batting average is a relatively weak indicator of how a player is performing. Donaldson is their poster child.
The average didn't deter fan appreciation for his skills in a revamped American League All-Star infield. While Donaldson is at third base, last year's third baseman, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera, has moved to first. That means Donaldson will be playing next to his boyhood idol, Derek Jeter. The New York Yankees shortstop, who is retiring at the end of the season, is in his final All-Star game.
When the A.L. takes the field Tuesday, keep a close eye on Donaldson. See if he can keep his emotions in check. This one-time catcher who has become one of the best third basemen in the game isn't above having the moment get to him, and he knows it.
"I might have to fight some emotions just because of the road I've taken to get me there," he said. "There is no way three or four years ago anybody has this in their reality for me. I wasn't at third base, I wasn't a major league regular by any stretch. I was just out there fighting to continue to play."
He played like an All-Star last year, and this season he's doing it again. Now he has the swag to go with it, including participation in the home run derby on Monday.
Batting coach Chili Davis suggests that what happened in 2013 defines the kind of player Donaldson is.
"The best players aren't here for personal accolades," said Davis, himself a three-time All-Star. "Everybody wants to be an All-Star, but the best play the game to win, to go for the postseason, not just to be an All-Star.
"Josh is like that. He wants to be part of a winning team. You can see that the way he plays the game."
Manager Bob Melvin said that when Donaldson didn't make the team a year ago, he was able to use that as motivation.
"He didn't get down, he got busy," Melvin said.
And Donaldson listened to what some of what baseball's older and more experienced heads had to say about being bypassed in 2013.
"I came to look at it as it was one of those things where, 'You play in Oakland. You can't get voted in.' You know what I mean? That's what I've always been told.
"Even last year when I didn't make the All-Star game, a lot of people around baseball were telling me, 'If you play in Oakland, you can't get voted in.' So the support I've been given from Oakland, it definitely means a lot to me.
"It's one of those things where not only have I beaten the odds by playing the position I do, but I've beaten some odds by being voted in. Our fan base definitely stepped up to the task."
He also got an unintended boost from the Tigers, who moved Cabrera to first, making the field somewhat less crowded at Donaldson's position.
"When I heard that, I knew the opportunity was there," Donaldson said. "You still have to go out and perform. Making the All-Star team, get these individual awards, that's not why I play the game. I play to win championships and help my team win. I feel if you take care of those kinds of things, you're going to get rewarded."
One of those rewards comes Tuesday.
"I don't have to get a hit Tuesday," Donaldson said. "I think being able to go out there and step on the field with the quality of players who are going to be there is what makes it, especially being on the same side of the infield as Derek Jeter. He was always my guy."
Now he's his teammate.