|Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures|
Last season, the longest stretch Jose Bautista went without hitting a home run was 13 games. Needless to say, that “slump” didn’t really hurt his 2010 totals.
While he may have had trouble putting the bat on the ball during those two weeks, Bautista certainly didn’t have an issue keeping his eye on the ball by drawing seven walks.
Prior to yesterday’s game, Jose Bautista had gone five games without hitting a home run. That’s not to say those five games weren’t unproductive either, as he walked a total of six times in those games.
So when Jose Bautista took a slider from Chris Ray and drove it into the left field seats at Safeco Field yesterday, it was the extra boost the Blue Jays needed to get over the hump and beat the Seattle Mariners.
I realize the season is only 12 games young, but Jose Bautista has had a hell of an April so far. Nobody expected him to bust out of the gate and crush home runs right away (he only hit 4 in April 2010), but it’s his patience and ability to draw walks that’s making him a potent hitter.
By now, the league has caught on that Bautista loves inside fastballs like Travis Snider likes porterhouses. Teams have studied the tapes ad nauseum and it looks like they’re throwing him more and more breaking balls.
It doesn’t seem to be an issue for Jose though, as the only difference is he has to wait just a fraction of a second longer to crush a pitch over the fence. That combined with Bautista’s monk-like patience at the plate continues to make him an on-base machine.
Once again, it’s still very early in the campaign, but if Jose can sustain anything close to the current pace he’s on, don’t you think he could be destined to garner some MVP votes? Last year, it was his batting average that was his downfall, but if he can keep it north of .275 this year I think he’ll turn even more heads.
Even if his home run total drops to the 30-35 range, voters will look much more favourably if his batting average is much higher this year. It will be near impossible for Jose Bautista to sustain his .500 on base percentage, but voters will have a tough time keeping him off the ballot if he can keep it in the high 300’s.
In the meantime, I’ll just revel in Buck Martinez and his infamous sustained line “long drive, left field!”.