Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The People vs. Jose Bautista
By Ian Hunter
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".
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.
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.