|Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures|
It's one that only 22 players in Major League Baseball have the distinction of belonging to, and it's the back-to-back 40 home run season/100 walk club. It might not be as illustrious as the 40/40 club, but it's pretty impressive nonetheless.
In case you're wondering who else belongs to the consecutive 40 HR/100 BB club, the list of its member is a who's who of the most feared hitters in baseball history. Thanks to @tonyni at Stats Inc for the numbers:
The unfortunate part is seven of the 22 names on that list came were connected with the steroid era of baseball, which does somewhat taint the exclusivity of that list.
For instance, Barry Bonds was intentionally walked an all-time high 120 times during the 2004 season. So he didn't even have to take the bat off his shoulders, and he managed to surpass 100 walks.
It really gives you a new appreciation for Jose Bautista's patience at the plate because of the 232 combined walks he drew in 2010 and 2011, only 26 of them or 11.2 percent of them were intentional base on balls.
Jose Bautista will embark on putting up a third consecutive 40 home run/100 walk club; which is a club that includes only the upper echelon of hitters: Babe Ruth, Jim Thome, Barry Bonds, and Adam "I don't even like baseball" Dunn.
As Bautista's reputation as a dangerous hitter continues to flourish across the league, I don't think the 100 walk milestone will be as difficult to achieve as will the 40 home run part. Inherently that means Bautista will likely see even less pitches to hit in 2012.
Ever since the end of the steroid era, the prototypical feared slugger is much harder to find ... which truly makes Jose Bautista a once in a lifetime player.
Thanks again to Tony for all the info and the legwork on the stats. Follow him on Twitter at @Tonyni