It was news a year ago, when he blossomed and made all the swing changes and life adjustments and deals with the devil that turned him into an incredible power hitter. Since September 2009, Jose Bautista has 92 home runs. 92 home runs. In less than 1000 plate appearances. Out of nowhere. Like I said, he’s a good hitter.
The home runs make Jose famous (7.5 million All Star votes and breaking the Nana Index famous). His patience makes Jose special. Lots of players hit home runs, very few can do it without forsaking their ability to avoid making outs. More than that, this patience allows Jose Bautista to ride out streaks when his swing is slightly off.
If home runs were the only thing that matter, Wily Mo Pena would be baseball’s biggest star. Instead, guys like Jose Bautista and Joey Votto are prized offensive phenoms. Jose Bautista is, currently, on fire. Through a mere six gamesm Jose already has four home runs in July. That’s a good month for most mortals and still good for baseball’s best hitter.
While he’s red hot this week, at the end of May/beginning of June Jose went nearly three full weeks without hitting a home run. In the thirteen homerless game, Jose still remained productive by drawing 13 walks.
With that in mind, I wanted to look at Jose Bautista’s consistent production since he became Jose Bautista. Using a method I first saw on Beyond the Box Score, I created a rolling ten-day wOBA (watch this video for some more background on weighted on base average) for Jose Bautista dating back to that fateful September. You can see the results below with a few comments and reflections.
First nerdy things first: I calculated Jose’s wOBA using Matt Klaassen’s custom linear weights from 2010. As such, Jose’s 2011 wOBA is lower here than on Fangraphs etc. due to league average OBP being much lower this season. Compared to themselves, like here, that shouldn’t change anything for our purposes. It simply means his numbers are higher when compared to the rest of the league.
Next: Jose Bautista is amazing. Of the 242 ten-game chunks displayed here, Jose Bautista’s wOBA was below average for 31 of them. 13% For context’s sake, Bautista tallied a .500 or better weighted on-base average for 64 chunks. More than double!
As for home runs, I found only one single 10 game streak without a home run, though 28 feature only one tater tot. Awesomely, Jose Bautista managed to hit 8 home runs in a 10 game sample THREE DIFFERENT TIMES since September 2009 (not to mention 8 samples with seven home runs.) That’s messed up.
Looking at the lowest four spans of this sample: guess how many walks Jose Bautista managed at this time? If you guessed zero, you are right. His respective wOBA in these four, walkless chunks? .211, .254 (x2), .261. All this while clouting 5 home runs. What does that tell us? It is the walks that make him go.
Over this incredible span of great hitting, Jose Bautista averages 8.9 walks and 3.3 home runs per 10 game slice. He is now the definitive patient slugger in baseball. His ability to maintain this preternatural patience even when the ball stays in the park, even when he’s the sole source of offense for his team, is what makes Jose Bautista’s incredible 1000 PA run so remarkable. There simply aren’t many hitters with his combination of skills. I, for one, am quite content to be quite wrong on his ability to sustain this high level of play.