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.

Comments (45)

  1. Amen.

  2. Who cares how bad it looks? It’s Jose Freaking Bautista…yknow, the best hitter in baseball for 2 years running? He’s earned the right to question umps. He’s a great guy in the clubhouse and a great hitter – he can criticize umps as much as he wants for all I care, he’s still the man.

    • Well… you actually have no idea if he’s a great guy in the clubhouse. And this year so far, he hasn’t been a great hitter. AND if part of the reason for that is that he’s getting mixed up by borderline calls he was very sure and very often right about the last two years, might he not want to consider not showing up the umpire every time he guesses wrong? You don’t think that he might be creating a bad reputation for himself among the guys who control that one immensely-crucial aspect to his game?

      At the very least his act is unbecoming, at worst it may actually be impacting his game. There’s no reason not to want him to knock it the fuck off.

      • I have some indication that he’s a great guy in the clubhouse based upon comments made by teammates, Alex Antopolous, Farrell, and watching him interact on the field.

        He’s been questioning umpires since he’s been here, even in his great 2010 and 2011 seasons and it didn’t seem to affect him too badly then. We’re only noticing it now because he’s struggling.

      • Amen.

      • I found his reactions to boarderline calls obnoxious even when he was destroying everything in his path last season, it’s foolish and all it’s gotten him so far is that bullshit non-HBP call from the ump in the first game of the twins series, he needs to cut the bullshit – it’s stupid and its hurting him and his team.

        • I think it’s overblown. Every hitter argues balls and strikes. If umpires are using it against him and the team, then they’re not doing their job as IMPARTIAL referees.

      • For all we know, Bautista’s questioning may have no effect on his calls at all (or perhaps even help him…it’s not like umpires are immune to pressure). Let’s not go making assumptions based on no evidence here.

        And personally, I have no problem with Bautista being who he is. If that’s acting out emotionally on a pitch that he thinks is a ball, fine, whatever. It certainly didn’t hurt him in 2010 and 2011.

        • Should we also tell Yunel to knock off his show boating too while we’re out trying to change players’ personalities?

        • if I was umpiring vs. jose and he exploded when he didnt like a call i made, i’d throw him out of the game, and if a pitch comes in that i cant quite judge, maybe i’ll call it a strike just to mess with him.

      • You’re really starting to bore me with your opinions. Be funny and informative, that’s what made djf successful…

    • theres a difference between questioning a bad or questionable call by the ump and exploding like you’re god’s gift to the strikezone.

    • you’re an idiot then because you havent cared when his childish outbursts have got him thrown out of games.

    • Your comments here show nothing but fucking stupidity. If you don’t think Jose’s action are affecting/effecting (?) the outcome of calls against him you are either blind, ignorant, or just fucking stupid.

    • He actually seems like a bitch in the clubhouse. All smiles when he’s hitting, and all bitch when he isn’t. It’s actually quite detestable. Sure, he dances a jig with Lawrie after a 2-jack night, but from what I see the team really dislikes his swings. He needs to take a lesson from Rasmus. Rasmus’ father could be killed in front of him, and his pulse wouldn’t go up by much more than 3 bpm.

  3. Its so hard watching games on TV played in Target Field.. My sense of balls and strikes is way off…

    When I saw that Jose pitch I thought it was a terrible call… Then they showed a replay from ground level and it looked like a strike…

  4. funny.. watching it, i thought it was pretty fucking low too

    • Me too, for sure.

    • i agree, i was convinced it was a ball, it certainly didnt look like that pitch had been called earlier in the game at the very least – but even in a game where the ump is calling low strikes i would have thought that was a ball

  5. #jerkball

  6. I’d ve very curious to see a compilation of all the borderline pitches over the last 2+ years where Jose has visually (or verbally) been upset/frustrated at the umpire’s call…and to see if Jose has been correct more often than the umpires.

    Wouldn’t it be cool if Jose was correct more often than not? It would be another point in favour of robot umpires. So superstar hitters (and pitchers) do not have to change their approach based on an umpire’s interpretation of the strike zone…

    • Not exactly scientific but last couple years I’ve had a tendency to check MLB At Bat whenever I see Jose freak out about a pitch.

      Last year when I checked I would say Jose was right way more often than not, this year when I’ve checked he’s been wrong way more often than not. For whatever that’s worth.

  7. Bautista’s not acting any differently than he has in past years with umpires. He’s always been a bit blatant about questioning calls (which really isn’t that unique a quality when you look at a lot of top MLB stars) and it certainly didn’t hurt him in 2010 or 2011. The only difference is that he’s struggling at the plate this season, so now many Jays fans (and apparently Stoeten) are finding a problem with it.

    • You know, if you want to know what I think about this, you could actually read what I wrote in the post that you’re commenting on.

      • I read it and just don’t see much reason to take much meaning out of Bautista’s antics. Bautista was doing basically the same thing on borderline pitches that went against him in 2010/2011, only mashing instead of struggling. Nobody, of course, said a damn thing about it.

        His slumps have always come down to his swing and his timing.

        • Do you actually watch the games? I flip between 3 or 4 games every night and Bautista is by far the worst i have seen all year at reacting negatively to umps. He absolutely was NOT acting this bad the last 2 years, and it’s not about the effect on the umps but the effect to his pysche that I would wonder about. It could have zero effect at all, but to say definitively that it doesn’t your just being an annoying asshole because you have that reputation to keep as “dispute everything guy”.

          • Yes, I actually watch the games. Yes, there are plenty of other players that act much like Bautista does with umpires on close calls. And yes, he was doing exactly the same thing last season and the season before that (in fact, he actually got ejected for it last season).

            And I never said “definitively” that his antics had no effect on his game (either negative or positive), but I just don’t see any good reason to believe they do.

    • I have a problem with it. He’s coming accross like a snively little c%$t.

      Hey I love him, he’s the face of the team.

      But UMPs often call pitches strikes, then immediatley realize it was a mistake. Were all human. You cant take it back. But when a hitter tells the Ump respectfully that he didnt like it, keeps his eyes away from making contact with an Ump, and make it a short effective bitch session, Umps respect you more.

      If you storm off 20 feet out of the batters box looking like a highschool cheerleader who just missed her step and makes a hissyfit, the boys in blue are watching, and certainly are going to talk amoungst each other what a self entitled hitter Jose thinks he is.

      Just like Lattimer needs to simmer slightly, Jose can learn the art of bitching from guys like Big Papi ,Torii Hunter, or Robinson Cano.

      Sometimes its what you dont say that sends the message.

      • For all we know Jose’s antics keep the umpires honest.

        Sure, it’s a bullshit theory…but so is the notion that his antics don’t earn him favours with the umps…as though not complaining will get him more favourable calls.

        This isn’t the NHL. While umps all have their own “strike zones” there isn’t a whole lot of grey area calling balls and strikes like there is with penalties in hockey.

        Can umpires really fuck over Bautista to a significant degree if they don’t like his demeanour? I doubt that would fly.

  8. is that strike zone in general or adjusted to how the ump was calling it that game? sure seemed low to me when i saw it, the catcher framed it badly so maybe it just seemed low

  9. I think it’s the beard. He needs a James Harden or a Brain Wilson beard.

  10. where the hells the game threat?

  11. love the centre field camera in Minny where the mound is in line with the plate. every park should do the same.

  12. i love the camera straight on. wish it was like this in RC. cam definitely see if its over the plate. and you can see the height

  13. I don’t care for the performing either, and would prefer that umpires didn’t “show respect” to “veterans”, but at the same time they do, and he rarely gets the benefit of the doubt (as the post says). He’s had a legitimate beef since about May of 2011 when it became apparent he was a star.

    But stop the whining. I didn’t like it last year, I don’t like it now.

  14. Stoeten – find a real subject. or at least a funny one.

  15. It would be possible for someone with a lot of time on their hands to actually calculate hissy-fits per at bat over the last three years, to see if the subjective impression that they’re up this year is objectively real, or, like most things in baseball, just a great way of showing how human impressions of reality is at usually at complete odds with the factual truth.

    You’d also need to compare Bautista’s HF/AB against other leading players to see if there’s any indication that plate-huffiness affects the strike zone negatively.

    In other words, just like ‘clutch players’ have been proved pretty much to be a superstition, it’s not actually possible to make a judgement about stuff like this based judgement alone.

  16. Bautista needs some Karp for a plate song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W42HZJIU7e4

  17. [...] Saturday, our friends over at Drunk Jays Fans wondered if Bautista was getting squeezed in the strike zone by umpires this season. Anecdotally, it seemed that Bautista was arguing more [...]

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