Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The People vs. Jose Bautista


By
Forward

Before I delve too far into this, let me explain what's written below. A few months ago, I had the idea to qualify Jose Bautista's monster start to the season, and I was convinced that he was the "real deal".

Admittedly a homer for one of my favourite players, I thought it was only fair to get someone from the other side of the argument in on the issue. I was going to play the part of the defense while Drew from Ghostrunner on First would be the prosecutor.

Needless to say, it's hard to argue against a player who leads the league in home runs. However, I didn't want my side of the argument to go silent - so I hereby present you folks with the defense's side of "The People vs. Jose Bautista".


Opening Statement

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: let me begin today's proceedings by asking you all a question. What is "real"?

Is it something you can hold in the palm of your hand? It is something that's measurable, tangible, and something that can be explained?

The dictionary defines "real" as being or occurring in fact or actuality, having verifiable existence and to be true or actual. Well, I'm here today to show you that Jose Bautista is all of those things.

It's easy to write off his late-season success as a fluke. It's easy to even say Jose Bautista had a bit of a cakewalk against opponents in the early stages of the season. However, now we're getting into the heart of the schedule and he's still putting up phenomenal numbers.

With the most home runs this season out of anybody in the major leagues, and even the most since last September, there is no denying that Jose Bautista is real.


Exhibit A - Offense

One the widely publicized chinks in Jose Bautista's armour was that he's a notoriously dreadful hitter against right-handed pitching. Then what does he do? Hits all but four of his 26 home runs this season against right-handed pitchers. If there was any criticism of his ability to hit off righties, Bautista has all but silenced his critics.

How can one argue against the current major league leader in home runs? Whether those dingers were hit off of mediocre pitching or not, home runs are still home runs.

Yes, Jose Bautista has a batting average that is something less than to be desired. Frankly, Bautista doesn't need to have a batting average over .300 so long as he's continually hitting balls out of the park.


Exhibit B - Defense

There is no question that defensively Jose Bautista is one of the best fielders on the Toronto Blue Jays roster. He makes one hell of a solid third basemen, and his defensive prowess in the outfield is unparalled. Last year, he led the league with 11 outfield assists and only played 84 games split between the three outfield positions.

It's no secret that Edwin Encarnacion holding down the hot corner but he's handled ground balls as badly as he does Roman Candles. EE has made 9 throwing errors from third base this season alone, and 16 in total since coming over to the Blue Jays last year.

Jose Bautista on the other hand has played 61 games at third base for the Jays since 2008 and only committed 6 errors in total. To me, it seems like a no-brainer as to who to start at third base.


Exhibit C - Overall Worth

At a meager salary of just $2.4 million dollars, Jose Bautista is worth it for the defense alone. Then you add in his offensive contributions to the team and he's one of the best bargains contract-wise in baseball.

The only problem I foresee is Bautista's value skyrocketing so high that the Blue Jays will not be able to afford his services when it comes time to renew his contract. And that's if the Blue Jays hang on to him past the trade deadline.

The third base position is seemingly the only hole in the Alex Anthopolous' plan to rebuild this team, so why not give Jose Bautista a crack at becoming the full-time third basemen for the next few seasons?

He's still under team control through 2011, and by then the Blue Jays can re-evaluate whether there is a suitable replacement in the minors or if they should sign Bautista to a 2-3 year deal in the interim.


Closing Statement

Ladies and gentlemen, let me ask you once again: what is real?
Are Jose Bautista's 26 home runs this season real? Are his abilities to play both corner outfield spots and third base real? Is Jose Bautista's value real?

I'll be the first to admit Jose Bautista isn't the perfect baseball specimen. He's no Albert Pujols. He's no Alex Rodriguez.
But right now, Jose Bautista has more home runs this season than both of those players.

After all the evidence presented today, one can't help but answer yes to all those questions asked above. I truly believe that Jose Bautista is the real deal. And you should too. Thank you.

8 comments:

  1. I would also like to give JBau a crack at 3B, hopefully we can get something for E5.

    Also, there is a typo in the closing statement; he has 26 dingers not 16!

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  2. Matt, thanks for the heads up. Can you believe I originally wrote this back when Bautista had 16 HR's in May. Who would've guessed that a few months later, he'd still lead the league?

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  3. Nice Piece.

    I have moved from the side of let's sell high on Bautista and bring in some young talent to keeping him as part of the core going forward.

    Let's pick up young prospects and picks from Buck, Gregg, Overbay, Encarnacion, Downs and Frasor.

    Move Bautista to third and get Snider back in the outfield.

    Lewis, LF
    Escobar, SS
    Bautista, 3B
    Wells, CF
    Snider, RF
    Lind, DH
    Hill, 2B
    Wallace, 1B
    Arencibia, C

    Lind and Hill WILL regain there form, either this season or next.

    Wallace and Arencibia, will have growing pains, but at the bottom of the line-up hopefully feel less pressure and have time and ABs to figure out hitting in the bigs.

    If Lind and Hill comeback, that's a scary lineup, no?

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  4. route 19, thanks for the comment! I'm starting to think AA is trying to build Bautista into the plans of this team now, too.

    The Jays have given Encarnacion enough chances, and once Snider is activated I think it's time to DFA EE or send him down for good. I don't believe the Jays have any intention of bringing him back next year, so just cut ties right now rather than watch him fumble for the rest of the season.

    And yes, that lineup will be deadly next season. I can't wait!

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  5. Didn't the Jays already designate EE for assignment at one point, and nobody picked him up because of his contract and poor defense?

    As far as Jose goes, I still think he and A-Gonz are flukes. A couple years ago the Royals were in first place for a couple months solely because of flukey performances like that, but still finished a bunch of games out of first place by season's end.

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  6. Steve, yeah they did put EE in waivers and nobody claimed him so I don't think the Jays will be able to get much value for him on the trade market

    As far as Gonzo and Bautista go, it's hard to say whether this season is just a career year or not. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

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  7. Thanks for the analysis.

    You said "Last year, he led the league with 11 outfield assists," but a cursory check shows that Bay had 15 and Markakis 13.


    http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2009-fielding-leaders.shtml

    I know he has a cannon arm and decent speed, having watched him chase down balls, but Jeff Passan said today in his profile of Bautista that he has mediocre defense. It's probably just lazy writing by Passan, but I'm still trying to figure out his real defensive value. Anthopoulos has said he's the kind of plus right fielder the jays haven't had since the Barfield days.

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  8. Anon, thanks for catching that.
    I'm not sure why I thought his 11 lead the league.

    Even so, Bautista picked up 11 assists playing 84 games in the outfield - Bay played 150 and Markakis played 161 games.

    If you prorate Bautista's rate to 162 games, that would've put him on pace for 21 outfield assists.

    Take it from someone who has kept a very close eye on Bautista these past few years: he is a tremendous defender both in the outfield and at the hot corner.

    His UZR has been fairly steady both last season and this season in the outfield. He might not have the greatest range, but he has good speed and a hell of an arm. I don't know why Passan would say that Bautista is a mediocre defender.

    The way AA is praising Bautista these days, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to see the Blue Jays part with him.

    His ability to not only hit for power but also field multiple positions makes Bautista a very valuable asset.

    ReplyDelete

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