For many, the lasting image from the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2015 postseason was this; Jose Bautista ceremoniously flinging his bat in the air after a no-doubter home run off Sam Dyson in Game 5 of the ALDS.
That home run crushed the playoff aspirations of the Texas Rangers and simultaneously exorcised the Toronto Blue Jays’ playoff demons. Without that home run by Jose Bautista, we’d probably still be talking about how the Blue Jays got screwed out of winning the ALDS.
But what many people might not remember, is Jose Bautista was this close to single-handedly winning Game 6 of the ALCS for the Blue Jays.
His pair of home runs supplied the Blue Jays’ entire offense in that game in the Kansas City Royals. Bautista nearly added himself to the list of single-greatest playoff performances by a Blue Jay.
Jose Bautista’s three-run home run against the Yankees was just the latest in his string of ever-important home runs he’s hit for this franchise in the month of September and October.
On Wednesday afternoon in Seattle, he brought the Blue Jays back from the brink against the Mariners. And then Jose Bautista did this is Saturday.
With the Blue Jays fighting for their playoff lives, Bautista could not have had a bigger game.
At this point in his career as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, one really shouldn’t be surprised when Jose Bautista comes through with a big hit in a pivotal moment. Because he’s been doing it for years now. Bautista has a flair for the dramatic and a knack for coming up with the big hit.
Twice this week, Jose Bautista has come up with a game-tying or go-ahead home run. On Friday night, he delivered the decisive blow to the Yankees with a two-run double in the Blue Jays’ convincing 9-0 victory.
When the Blue Jays were desperate for a big hit from one of their star players, Jose Bautista delivered.
It’s still remarkable to me that players like Jose Bautista have the uncanny ability to not let the gravity of the game faze them. Instead, they have the incredible tendency to slow down the game and deliver big plays at the most crucial time.
At the very least, Jose Bautista can always be counted on to get on base. He’s posted an OBP of .358 or better the past seven consecutive seasons. Despite going on the DL for one-quarter of the season, he still has the seventh most walks in the American League this year.
But as great as it is to reach base via a base on balls, I think we can all agree that Jose Bautista is at his very best when he’s delivering a big hit and channeling his namesake: Joey Bats.
It really has been a roller coaster season for Jose Bautista. Think back to Spring Training when everyone was still riding the high from the “bat flip” and Bautista laid down his contract demands. Then fast forward to his multiple stints on the DL; a total of 42 games missed this season due to injury.
One can’t really blame anyone for becoming disenfranchised with Jose Bautista this year. Some of the good will he earned from the bat flip steadily eroded away after his defensive deterioration on the field and a few trips to the disabled list.
Overall, it’s been a tumultuous season for Jose Bautista, but as evidenced by his play as of late, Bautista’s trying to forget all that and propel his team into the postseason.
After Saturday’s three-run home run off Tyler Clippard, Jose Bautista reminded everyone just how lethal of a hitter he truly is. Bautista reminded everyone why he’s been a beloved face of the Blue Jays franchise for so many years. Jose Bautista also reminded opposing pitchers that he’s still got it.
No matter what happens from hereon out, nothing can tarnish the legacy of Jose Bautista as a Toronto Blue Jay. Whether or not he re-signs with the Blue Jays, whether he delivers the home run that wins the World Series this year, no one can ever diminish what he’s done in a Blue Jays uniform.
With nine regular season games left to play, Jose Bautista can only add to his lore as one of the best Blue Jays of all-time.