Jose Bautista is nearing a nice round number that will place him in elite historical company, while Yankees’ hurler CC Sabathia has already reached his magic number on the hill.
Jose Bautista has hit 49 homers, the most in baseball in 2010. I’m sure I will revisit this completely nonsensical season he is having at some point when it’s all wrapped up, but here are a few things to gnaw on until then.
First, he leads baseball in homers by a total of 10 (Albert Pujols is second with 39).
Second, Bautista hit 43 homers the past three seasons – combined.
Third, by my count, there have been 41 seasons in baseball history of 50 homers. There are only a few names that really stand out on that list, and they are Greg Vaughn (50 in 1998) and Brady Anderson (50 in 1996). Vaughn was a power hitter of some repute, he did blast 355 homers in his career including two other seasons of at least 40-homers, but his name still doesn’t fit in very well on the list. As for Anderson, he is likely the guy everyone will compare Bautista to in their end of the year write ups of the Blue Jays’ outfielder/third basemen. Anderson’s season was the most improbable homer season in history – until Bautista’s this year. Anderson had a career-high of 21 homers entering his 50 homer campaign (Bautista had never hit more than 16), but Brady never even remotely approached that level of effectiveness again with a secondary career best of 24. Makes you wonder about what Bautista will do for a follow up doesn’t it?
CC Sabathia is one of the stars of the game on the hill. He has won 156 games in his career – against only 87 loses (.642 winning percentage) – including at least 11 victories each season since 2001. By the way, he is the only pitcher in baseball who has won that many each of the past 10 seasons. CC has also struck out as many as 251 batters in a season, has been named to four All-Star teams, and he won the Cy Young Award in 2007 (he also finished in the top-5 two other times – 2009 in the NL with the Brewers and 2009 in the AL with the Yankees). Yet he had never accomplished what he did in his last start, and that is winning 20 games in a season.
With the advent of the 5-man rotation, pitch and innings counts, and teams just being flat out cautious because they have so much money invested in their arms, it’s fairly difficult, even if one pitches very well, to get to 20 wins. Figure this way. If you a guy makes 33 starts he has to win nearly 61 percent of his starts to get to 20 wins. In the case of CC, even with all his innings and that great winning percentage, it took him until his 10th season to pull off the trick. In fact, since the calendar flipped to the 21st century there have been a mere 35 twenty win seasons in baseball or an average of 3.5 a year. In the AL Jon Lester has 18 victories, while over in the NL a trio of hurlers are sitting at 19 – Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Halladay and Adam Wainwright – so one or more may still yet join Sabathia in the 20-win club.
By Ray Flowers