Thursday, July 14, 2011

'Joey Bats, Shining in the Box'

If Bautista keeps this pace he'll join elite company.
Yes, I know that Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez leads the American League in hits and batting average (not to mention he's got that silky smooth swing), and of course we all know the track record that guys like St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez have as the top hitters in baseball, but Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista deserves more credit than anybody right now because of the numbers he has put up in the first half of this 2011 season.  Bautista is viewed solely as a power hitter, and based on last years numbers, when he hit a ML best 54 homeruns but batted only .265, it seems hard to argue otherwise.  But through the first 84 games this year, Bautista is second to Gonzalez in the AL batting .334, and is first in homeruns (31), and fourth in runs batted in (65).  Like sabermetrics?  Look up Bautista on and see the slew of categories he leads the AL in. Stats don't always tell the story but at the same time numbers don't lie.  The most impressive stat: Bautista is slugging .702 and has an on-base percentage of .468, giving him an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) of 1.170.  If he continues at this pace, the man they call Joey Bats will put himself in the company of some of the most legendary single seasons that baseball has ever seen.  His OPS is on pace to be the 34th best for a single season in major league history; behind Lou Gehrig in 1934  and just ahead of Mickey Mantle in 1956.  Also, when you look at the fact that not only is he hitting for power, but also for average, he enters an even more elite group of players.  Below is the list of players who have slugged .700 or better with atleast a .330 batting average for a season all-time.

+Babe Ruth (1921) .846 SLG, .378 BA
+Barry Bonds (2004) .812, .362
+Lou Gehrig (1927) .765, .373
+Rogers Hornsby (1925) .756, .403
*Jeff Bagwell (1994) .750, .368 

+Jimmie Foxx (1932) .749, .364
+Ted Williams (1941) .735, .406
*Frank Thomas (1994) .729, .353 
Hack Wilson (1930) .723, .356
*Albert Belle (1994) .714, .357 
+Larry Walker (1999) .710, .379 
Al Simmons (1930) .708, .381 
Mickey Mantle (1956) .705, .353 
Stan Musial (1948) .702, .376

+ Player achieved milestone more than once in career; best season of combined slugging and batting average listed.
*Strike shortened season; no team played more than 117 games.

Look, I'm not putting Joey Bats into the Hall of Fame or anything, I'm just saying the props the man gets is not equivalent to the absolute pillage he has been putting on this season.  It hurts him alot that A-Gon is making AL pitching look like its soft toss, and that the Blue Jays are usually a lock to finish no better than third place in the division, but I'll be watching to see if he can stay at this pace or better in these next few months.

***statistics courtesy of

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