Monday, May 16, 2011

Jose Bautista Defines Progression to the Extreme

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Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures
Regression to the mean? More like progression to the extreme.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any better for Jose Bautista, they do. And just when you thought Jose Bautista was slowing down, he kicks things into overdrive.

For those who ever though he would regress towards the mean, Jose Bautista took regression to the mean out in the back alley this past weekend and beat it to death with a baseball bat.

Looking at his .532 on base percentage and 1.312 on base plus slugging back at the end of April, no one expected him to sustain that pace. That superhuman OPS was bound to come back down to earth at some point.

However, now at a quarter of a way through the 2010 season, not only has Jose Bautista maintained that pace, if anything he might have actually amped things up a bit. His OBP is hovering around .520 and his OPS has shot up to 1.388.

It's almost gotten to the point where it's just outright unfair to the opposition to send Jose Bautista out there. Given the Minnesota Twins are hurting right now, but Bautista single-handedly made their pitching staff look like a minor league affiliate.

One reason that can be attributed to Bautista's incredible numbers is his ability to not get rattled when behind in the count. Jose does take pitches from time to time, and you also won't see him chase out of the zone.

Dustin Parkes has a great breakdown over at Getting Blanked on Bautista's epic 10 pitch at-bat from Friday in which he battled all the way back from 0-2 to kill a 3-2 pitch for a home run.

I can't find the stats on Baseball Reference to back it up, but I'm willing to bet that Bautista is one of the best hitters in the league when behind in the count. Typically, being in that situation would dictate the hitter should protect the plate, but Bautista does otherwise.

It's almost as if he goes into super sense mode when behind in the count and has an extra ability to sniff out those offspeed pitches. On the same token, his spidey sense tingles whenever an opposing pitcher releases a fastball in the zone.

Just as a quick comparison, Jose Bautista hit 16 home runs playing 117 games for the Pirates in 2006. He has now hit 16 home runs playing 32 games for the Blue Jays. A pace of a home run every two games has made it mandatory to watch every single Bautista at bat.

The greatest part of all of this is there's no signs this Jose Bautista roller coaster ride is going to stop any time soon. And that mirrors what Alex Anthopoulos said at the State of the Franchise.

In relation to the Blue Jays returning to those dynasty years from the late eighties and early nineties, he said "it's going to be a freight train that's going to keep going."

Jose Bautista is an integral part of the future of the Blue Jays, and to know that he is going to be around for the next five seasons is extremely reassuring.

At some point, Jose Bautista's numbers may come back down to earth. There are still 122 games left to play in the 2011 season after all and a lot can happen between now and the end of September.

And yet, the further and further the season progresses, it just keeps looking like Jose may as well make some space in his trophy case for an MVP award.

2 comments:

  1. Great fun, eh Ian?
    I hate to use "on pace to" as a way of explaining why a player will do things that they likely won't do, but even if you just take the number of games so far (not simply the ones JB has played), he's on pace to exceed 15 WAR (BBRef). In a world where 1 WAR is worth 5ish mill$, that would mean JB did more than earn his contract in a single year.
    Anyway, I agree about the plate appearances -- even when I'm not paying attention to the game because other things are going on, I'm trying to tune in for every JB at bat. I imagine that's part of earning a salary in the entertainment - i mean sports - world.

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  2. QJays, this is amazing. It's like being high on Bautista and the Blue Jays right now and I'm loving every minute of it. Of course it helps that the Jays are back in the thick of things in the AL East as well.

    I don't think Bautista is going to sustain this pace, but we also said the same thing at the beginning of the year, and low and behold here he is a quarter of a way through the season still killing it.

    Even when the Blue Jays are down 10 runs, I still tune in for Jose Bautista's at bats because he's bound to do something incredible.

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