What’s Wrong with Joey Bats?
Jose Bautista came out of nowhere in 2010 to hit .260/.378/.617 with 54 HR and 124 RBI, a power outburst rivaled only by Brady Anderson’s 50 HR outburst in 1996. Only, Bautista is clean (so far) and he followed up his breakout by hitting .302/.447/.608 with 43 HR and 103 RBI in 2011. This year hasn’t been quite the same.
Bautista has matured as a hitter, well beyond the massive home run totals. He led the league in walks in 2011, 132, walking in 20.2% of his at bats. His patience is again showing, as he boasts a 15.4% walk rate, walking 21 times in 136 plate appearances. He seemed to be much more patient last season, but Bautista has only struck out 20 times, a 14.7% strikeout rate, well below his career 19.4% rate.
Bautista should be pressing and he should be frustrated right now. He is hitting .182/.316/.345 with five HR and 15 RBI. His batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is just .170, while his career BABIP is .272 and the normal BABIP standard is .300. He has had some tremendously unlucky moments in his 31 games in 2012, and it isn’t time to give up on him.
Toronto has an excellent, young roster. “Joey Bats” will rebound and the Blue Jays will only get better. At 17-14, Toronto is just three games back of Baltimore and Tampa Bay for first in the AL East. If Bautista was hitting like he normally does, they’d probably be 25-6. They’re 7th in MLB in runs scored without their best player performing. With Edwin Encarnacion having a career year and Brett Lawrie providing a nice power/speed combination as a rookie at third, the Blue Jays will be very, very dangerous when Bautista really gets going.