I’ve written a lot about Jose Bautista over the last six weeks. His start to the 2011 season has been incredible. We’re barely half way through the month of May, and he already has a 3.9 WAR season on his hands. Last season, after 162 games, Vernon Wells ranked second on the Toronto Blue Jays, behind Bautista, with a 4.0 WAR.
Only 19 entire teams in the league have a higher total WAR than Bautista does, and if you take away his contribution from the Blue Jays, it becomes 18.
Right now, 34% of his plate appearances have ended in either a walk or a home run. Of the 193 qualified batters in the Major Leagues, Bautista would rank 80th in on base percentage based only on his walks and home runs. That’s not counting the 29 hits he’s gotten that haven’t gone for home runs, which make his OBP of .520, 50 points higher than the next closest player, Joey Votto.
Perhaps most impressive to me is that right now, with two strikes, Bautista has an OPS of 1.122, and even in the 26 plate appearances in which a pitcher has gotten ahead in the count 0-2, he still has an OPS of 1.203. It’s utter and pure dominance.
The Albert Pujols comparisons are coming to an end and the name of Barry Bonds is beginning to be mentioned.
Yesterday afternoon, Bautista hit three home runs in one game for the first time in his career. He did so against two different pitchers. The first dinger came off of Brian Duensing in the third inning on the first four seam fastball that he saw. The second came against Kevin Slowey in the very next inning on a slider inside. And the third came again off of Slowey, this time on another four seam fastball that hung in the zone.
When Bautista and the Blue Jays signed a five year extension this offseason I was very critical of the agreement. The team had just gotten out from under the Vernon Wells shackles and seemingly found a new restraint to tie themselves to only a couple of months later. I wasn’t alone. In a poll taken by MLB Trade Rumors, 72.42% of people believed the contract to be too much.
I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. I just don’t think I’m wrong yet in not liking the contract. I never imagined that Bautista would play the way that he has so far, but what’s constantly being forgotten by people claiming that the contract was a work of genius by Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays is that the team still had Bautista locked up for 2011 as they prepared to go to arbitration with him.
This is an important factor being overlooked, and I don’t think you can properly judge the 5 year, $65 million contract until after next season. It’s all well and good to look at his 4 WAR already this year and assume that he only needs eight more wins above replacement over the next 4 3/4 years to make the contract worthwhile, but that’s negating to recognize the value that the team could’ve had without committing themselves to the back end of the contract.
The future looks great for the Blue Jays and Bautista right now, but let’s hold off on the crucifixions of those who were critical of the contract until a little bit longer than 1/30 of the way through the deal. Then you guys can totally have at it.
And The Rest:
Staying with Toronto, Jayson Nix was activated from the Disabled List, meaning that the Blue Jays had to send David Cooper back down to Triple A Las Vegas. During his first brief stint in the Major Leagues, Cooper had a miserable .486 OPS and a weighted on base average of .229 in 41 plate appearances.
If you missed the Jorge Posada melodrama from the weekend, you should probably feel lucky, but if you insist on catching up on the details, you can probably do a lot worse than seeing what River Avenue Blues has to say.
At least, it’s probably better than reading this drivel.
Come on Gregg Zaun, you know better. It’s like you just signed your name on an opinion, crumpled it up and threw it at the reporter.
Despite his horrendous struggles of late, the Seattle Mariners will stick with Brandon League as the team’s closer. This would be far more shocking if the team had another serious candidate.
In a similar vein, Ozzie Guillen and the Chicago White Sox are standing behind Juan Pierre despite his being Juan Pierre.
Tim Lincecum: Best pitcher in the league or definitely the best pitcher in the league?
Charlie Hustle would like a chance to manage again in the Majors. Yeah, that’ll happen.
Tony LaRussa is feeling better, but will still miss some time due to shingles. I don’t understand what the problem is though. Just hire some reliable roofers. Right, no such thing.
I may have just made light of a serious illness, but at least I didn’t make a promotion out of it.
Like Mr. Big, the band not the candy bar, Matt Murton is huge in Japan.
Stating the obvious must be a regional pastime in parts of Minnesota.
Some Mets fans do not like a baseball strategy set around avoiding outs.
Bobby Bonilla’s payday is just beginning.
Clint Hurdle sets out to make his gut the new market inefficiency, as you probably wish that jokes about the new market inefficiency became the new market inefficiency.
Nick Roman has a modest proposal for the Los Angeles Dodgers.