Jose Bautista may have hit a pair of home runs last night, but it still looks like he’s fighting himself, his frustrations, and– most noticeably, and perhaps most to his detriment– the umpires.
“He relies on location and he caught a break,” Bautista said of the low called first strike thrown by Twins closer Matt Capps in the ninth inning last night, according to MLB.com’s wrap up. “Then he made a good pitch to me up in the zone. I probably should have taken it, but I expanded my zone a little bit because of what happened earlier and I swung at a bad pitch and popped up.”
Unreliable as the naked eye is, I feel comfortable– and I’m hardly the only one– saying that it certainly seems like Bautista hasn’t been getting “superstar calls” on a lot of pitches this year. I can’t exactly sit here and pine for a player to get the kind of extra special treatment that implies, but it’s been noticeable that Bautista’s ability to seamlessly judge a borderline pitch and choose whether to swing or not– a skill that’s been crucial to his ascension to the elite level among Major League hitters over the past two years– appears to be eluding him so far in 2012. And judging by the quote above, it’s getting him all mixed up.
Thing is, comments like that, and Jose’s frustrated antics towards umpires that we’ve seen so often this year, can’t possibly be helping him. Especially when, as we see in the Pitch F/X strikezone plot of the at-bat from Brooks Baseball, he doesn’t have a whole lot of grounds to suggest either pitch should have been called a ball.
With the two home runs, it seems that indeed– like last year– the Twins are good for what’s ailing Jose. Let’s just hope that, once the bat comes around, this whole cock of the walk, dickhead act lightens up a bit. Not just so it maybe softens the umpires’ stance on not giving him borderline calls, but because it sure as shit isn’t very likable– at least when he’s not producing.
Image by Hannah Foslien/Getty.