Monday, May 2, 2011

Bautista's Bases On Balls Turning Heads


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I don't claim to be a medical professional, but maybe the neck strain Jose Bautista sustained yesterday was caused by all the outside pitches he's been seeing lately.

Bautista added yet another two walks to his total, which now sits at 30 base on balls. Through 25 games, that's 1.2 walks per game and if he continues that pace he'll amass 194 walks this season.

A 200 walk season by Jose Bautista would be unprecedented, but it certainly isn't out of the question. Barry Bonds practically owns the record books when it comes to walks in a season, but a large portion of those walks were intentional.

More so than his home run total in 2011, the statistic I was more interested in was seeing how many walks Jose Bautista would draw this year. He's already well on his way by reaching a quarter of his 2010 total in the first month of the season alone.

Shi Davidi made a comment a few weeks back noting that Jose Bautista's approach at the plate hasn't changed all that much from last year, the difference is how opposing pitchers work to him.

Bautista may have flown under the radar the first half of 2010, but now his reputation around the league as a fastball murdered precedes him. Thus the increase in breaking balls and subsequently the spike in walks.

Looking at Jose Bautista's Hot Zones (courtesy of Fox Sports), it's almost as though there's no chink in his armour whatsoever.

If anything, the place to attack Jose Bautista might be low and outside, but even then there's no guaranteeing he'll even offer at the pitch in the first place.

One thing I've noticed this year is that Bautista tends to lay off pitches even if they're inside the zone. He either waits for a pitch in his wheelhouse or he sits on a breaking ball and draws the walk. It's a dangerous combination for opposing pitchers.

I couldn't find a complete breakdown of pitches in each zone, but I'm willing to bet his average is .000 in those zones because Jose Bautista hasn't seen very many pitches there in the first place.

Gregg Zaun alluded to this on the Jays Connected postgame wrap up, but if Adam Lind continues to heat up, pitchers are going to have to start pitching to Jose Bautista.

And it's in their best interest to begin attacking Bautista, otherwise with Bautista's ability to get on base, the four/five/six hitters will make pitchers pay for making that error in judgement.

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