photo © 2010 Matt Pirecki | more info (via: Wylio)
The sun will rise in the morning, Raquel Welch will always be beautiful, and Jose Bautista will be the best hitter in baseball. Wait, what?
I’ve been a broken record for 12 months now. I keep saying “Jose Bautista can’t possibly keep this up,” yet week after week he does. It’s gotten to such a ridiculous point that people are now claiming that Bautista is not only a top-10 fantasy performer but that he is the best hitter in the game right now. Should we replace Lou Gehrig in the photo to the left and put Jose Bautista next to Babe Ruth?
During this period, Bautista’s season bests were 16 homers, 63 RBI, 75 runs scored and a .254 average. For the six years his slash line was .238/.329/.400. During that time the league average as better at .270/.340/.434.
.260-54-124-109 with a .995 OPS
Bautista led baseball in homers, was third in RBI and sixth in runs scored. He also became the fourth hitter in baseball history to have a season of 50 homers, 120 RBI, 100 runs, 100 walks and 35 doubles (the others are Babe Ruth, Hack Wilson and Luis Gonzalez).
.370-16-27-35-4 with a 1.365 OPS
His effort thus far is simply stunning. Bautista has been so stupendous, and honestly that word doesn’t do his performance justice, that he is on pace to hit hit .370 with 61 homers, 104 RBI, 135 runs scored and 15 steals.
Bautista’s work in 2011 is so absurd that it’s akin to being hit square in the face with a cast iron skillet.
(1) Bautista is hitting .370 and is on pace for more than 60 homers. Since 1940, only one player has hit .350 with 50 homers in a season. The year was 1957 and that hitter was Mickey Mantle (.365 with 52 homers).
(2) Bautista has an OBP of .516. In the history of baseball there have only been 10 seasons that can match that (minimum of 502 plate appearances). Think about that. Of all the players who have every played, there have only been 10 seasons better than the level that Bautista is currently getting on base.
(3) Bautista has an .849 SLG. In the history of the game only Barry Bonds 2001 season of .863 is better.
(4) Bautista has a 1.365 OPS. In the history of baseball there have only been four seasons that ended with marks higher than that – three by Barry Bonds and one by Babe Ruth.
As much as you all love Bautista, there simply can’t be a single person out there with half a brain that can legitimately claim that Bautista’s name should be mentioned in the same breath as Mickey Mantle, Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. We can agree on that, right? Come on, be honest. Do you really, if you search deep into the recesses of your being, think that Bautista deserves to have his name mentioned amongst the best hitters that the game of baseball has every produced before?
I’ve written and talked about how preposterous the performance of Bautista is going back to the start of last season. Here are the bullet points.
Bautista has never, not one single time, hit even .265 in a season. NEVER.
Bautista has never, not one single time, posted an OBP of .380 in a season.
As much as we want to say that he’s changed his swing and just figured everything out, we still have six years of below average work and one and a quarter seasons of excellence to review. Don’t forget that Bautista owns a rather average set of career numbers.
In his career his slash line is .250/.351/.472
The average player during his career has posted a line of .267/.337/.426.
Can he keep up his current pace? I can say with 100 percent certainty that he cannot.
There is no way he hits .370, .350, or even .330. Players just don’t add .100 points to their career batting average, it just doesn’t happen.
Is he going to finish with an OBP, SLG and OPS in the top-10 all-time for a single season? Please.
The question is – how much will he fall? Secondarily, will he be a top-5 performer, a top-10 performer, a top-25 performer? That’s where things get a bit trickier.
Put your thinking cap on and be honest. If I told you that Player A, through a quarter of a season, was producing career bests in AVG/OBP/SLG, home run rate, steal rate, walk rate, K-rate and BABIP, wouldn’t your inclination be to be wary of that level of production continuing?
What if I told you he was hitting .110 points better than ever before?
Or how about if he was on pace to bump his OBP by .138 points?
What about if his SLG was .233 points clear of any previous season?
What about if he was running so frequently that he was on pace to basically double his career best effort?
You’d tell me there was no chance that Player A would be able to keep that up. Given that, why is everyone so willing to throw out logic and common sense when it comes to Jose Bautista?
By Ray Flowers