It seems as though Jose Bautista and I got off on the wrong foot. I appreciate the things he does on the diamond, and I'm not even disappointed the Jays tendered him a contract. In this rebuilding year, who really cares how the team squanders their money? So long as JoeBau isn't blocking a worthwhile prospect (nope, the cupboard is bar-I MEAN ALL THE FOOD IS ON THE TABLE), why not let him get some reps in the outfield while offering capable backup for EE?
It's hard to deny that Jose Baustista killed the ball in the month of September, as Ian at the Blue Jay Hunter points out. If you've been following the BAS journey from the start, you realize I'm less than enamored with Baustista's September contribution. Back in September I stated my beleaf in the "Never Trust Anything That Happens in April or September" theory. It seems clear that teams eat innings with Brian Tallets and Sergio Mitres in hopes of sparing their bullpen, while good young arms are shut down to protect their development. Looking at Jose Bautista's record in September does nothing to dissuade that belief.
Below you'll see a list of the murderer's row Bautista victimized by way of the September long ball. Names accompanied by a star were September call-ups with very limited innings in 2009:
|Hunter Jones *||L||6.65||3||2.13||13.0|
|Michael Dunn *||L||7.60||1||2.25||33.3|
|Jeff Manship *||R||4.93||4||1.14||10.3|
While hitting a major league pitch over a fence standing 300-odd feat away is certainly quite a feat, this list doesn't fill my heart with glee, other than the perverse glee associated with being right. Hitting a home run off of Jeremy Guthrie is a rite of passage, like carrying a Dora backpack to the bullpen or pissing on Don Zimmer in the shower. It's something every big leaguer does at least once in their career. Chris Ray is equally terrible. The three kids that Bautista took deep all struggled mightily during their cameos, Dunn's appearance being his only one of the year.
Interesting that the final 5 home runs of the season were hit on the road, including three over the Green Monster. Only recently did I realize why they call it the Green Monster. Not because of the paint, it's all the money it makes for right-handed hitters at Fenway.
The homers off Buchholz, Snell, Gaudin and Baker should be the real focus here. All are actual, serviceable, right-handed big league arms. Snell pitched well after coming to the American League and Gaudin gave the Yankees some useful innings. Any Blue Jays fan that watch Buchholz crush the Toronto lineup over and again knows what he can do. Let's take a quick look at what kind of pitches Bautista squared up (click and it grows!).
Almost all fastballs (one change, one two-seamer) and all on the inside half. Interesting that Jose jumped on the first pitch he saw three times! Confidence is a wonderful thing I think, hopefully it carries over into 2010.
Some of the projections for Bautista offer some reason for (guarded) optimism. Dinger-happy Bill James suggests Jose could smack 13 taters in 2010, while CHONE believes he's good for 15. The real question, other than the less than stellar rates projected, is plate appearances. Until the biggest other shoe in franchise history drops, there is a log jam at most positions Jose figures to play. I'd be quite surprised to see him grab 400 PAs as he did in 2009. If he plays good defense when given the chance and builds on these late-season successes against right handed pitching, Jose Bautista could prove a worthy signing for 2010. But please Cito, don't fall in love with him all over again.
Big thanks to Ian the Blue Jay Hunter for the image, Hit Tracker for the dong info, Fangraphs for the pitcher details, and Brooks Baseball for the Pitch F/X.