Toronto Blue Jays slugger Josh Donaldson credits an encounter with Barry Zito three years ago for guiding him down the path to becoming American League MVP.

The former Oakland Athletics third baseman accepted the award Jan. 23, and recalled a time when he noticed the former San Francisco Giants left-hander had a higher batting average than he did.

"He's one of the big reasons why I'm here today, because I looked up at the scoreboard in 2012 and he was hitting about 40 points higher than I was," Donaldson said. "It made me realize I needed to change a few things. I gotta thank Barry for showing up that year and bringing the stick."

Donaldson entered that 2012 tilt slashing .082/.080/.102 with 16 strikeouts through his first 14 games, while Zito was hitting .133/.133/.133 after going 2-for-15 to start the year.