Thursday, August 5, 2010

Can Jose Bautista Break George Bell's Home Run Record?


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Before I forget, I'd like to send out a big congratulations to not only the American League Player of the Week, but also the Player of the Month ... Jose Bautista.

Mr. July is putting forth one hell of a campaign, and as we enter the final leg of the season I keep wondering if Jose Bautista can break one of the most coveted records in club history: George Bell's 47 home runs in 1987.

At this rate, Bautista is knocking a ball out of the park every 11.51 at bats. I find the at bats per home run (AB/HR) stat a little tricky because it's much more difficult to judge total at bats than plate appearances. For the sake of sabermetrics though, let's stick with at bats per home run.

Below we have the 10 most prolific home run seasons in Blue Jays history. Take a look at the numbers and see if you think Jose Bautista's monster season can match up with George Bell's, or any other notorious Blue Jay slugger on the list.

 
Player HR's Year PA's At Bats Games AB per HR
George Bell 47 1987 665 610 156 12.98
Jose Canseco 46 1998 658 583 151 14.3
Carlos Delgado 44 1999 681 573 152 13.02
Carlos Delgado 42 2003 705 570 161 13.57
Shawn Green 42 1999 694 614 153 14.62
Carlos Delgado 41 2000 711 569 162 13.88
Tony Batista 41 2000 664 620 151 15.12
Jesse Barfield 40 1986 671 589 158 14.73
Carlos Delgado 39 2001 704 574 162 14.72
Troy Glaus 38 2006 634 540 153 16.68
         
Jose Bautista33 2010452 380107 11.51

Up until now, Jose Bautista has played all but one of the Blue Jays 108 games. Whether it's in the outfield or at third base, Cito Gaston is basically committed to riding with Bautista every day from here on out so we can be assured he will clear 500 plate appearances.

Barring any injuries, Jose Bautista should play 150 games this season ... and I would even venture a guess to say he might even play more than 155 games total. With 54 games left in the schedule, that means Bautista will likely get a start in 48 more games before season's end.

So what does all this boil down to? If Bautista continues at his current pace of a home run per 11.51 at bats, he'll continue to hit a home run approximately every four games. With at least three at bats in each game and if Jose Bautista plays 155 games in total ... he will match George Bell's club record of 47 home runs.

At lot of these variables are big "what if's" though. What if Jose Bautista hits a slump? It happened to him earlier this year when he went 56 plate appearances or 46 at bats in between home runs.

As you can see from the chart above, none of the Blue Jays who hit 40 home runs or more let their at bats per home run get above around 14.7.

While his current pace suggests he will match or exceed the club record for home runs in a season, I'm afraid to say that I don't think Jose Bautista is going to rewrite the record books this year.

In order to surpass George Bell, Bautista will need to maintain his current home run pace of 11.51 at bats per home run, and he won't be able to waver much from it if he wants to stay on course for 48 home runs.

Realistically though, I wouldn't say it's out of the question for Jose to join the illustrious company of the Blue Jays 40 Home Run Club. With 33 home runs to his name already, that seems like a reasonable goal.

And even if Jose Bautista only hits 40 home runs, that's still about 25 more home runs than most people expected him to hit this year.

11 comments:

  1. Was Carlos Delgado ever great or what?

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  2. Maybe he starts hitting them every 9 at bats. With the year he's having I wouldn't be surprised.

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  3. NoisyFlowers, that's one thing that really stood out to me as I was trying to find the 10 best home run seasons in Jays history. Really makes me wish I paid more attention to the Jays in the late 90's and early 2000's.

    Mattt, anything below 10 AB/HR is phenomenal. I think McGwire's pace was something like 8 AB/HR. Steroid fueled or not, that's pretty crazy.

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  4. Great post - I was wondering where J-Bau would end up, relative to Bell and Canseco.

    Not to nitpick - but I think in the third row of the chart, Delgado should have 681 PAs, not 581?

    And holy hell, Delgado was scary good. I had almost forgotten.

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  5. Robbie, thanks for pointing that out. Too many numbers!

    It's hard to say where Jose will fit in on this list. I think he'll clear 40 for sure, but either way he'll be in great company.

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  6. Holy smokes, I never realized that Canseco had hit so many bombs.

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  7. I think a reasonable goal for JB would be 10 more - that would put him 4th all time, beyond that is gravy.

    also, has anyone else noticed that Wells is on a pace to join the Exclusive 50+ doubles club? only two members in there now for the jays, Wells would be the third.

    Also, 14 more and he passes Delgado for the franchise career record.

    With a little hot streak Wells could put this season in the top 10 all time Jays seasons for total bases too.

    And to swing back to Bautista, pro-rating his current numbers would put him #5 on that particular list.

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  8. oh - and pro-rating JB's RBIs gets you the fifth best Jays' season RBI total too.

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  9. Steve, yeah that's the often forgotten Jose Canseco season that got lost amongst the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run race.

    Southpaw, it would be nice to see Vernon join that club. I don't think he'll crack 30 home runs, but 50 doubles would be nice.

    And if Bautista didn't spend about a month or so down in the 7 slot in the lineup, he could have a hell of a lot home runs. But yes, as you said - anything is gravy at this point.

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  10. Good post, but you forgot Tony Batista's 41 HRs in 2000.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/batisto01.shtml

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  11. Anon, thanks for pointing that out - not sure how I missed that one!

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