Saturday, October 9, 2010

Jose Bautista 2010 season

My name is Craig Ballard, and I am  Jays fan...

No this is not another AA (Alex Anthopoulos) meeting, but it is a look at the 2010 amazing season put together by Jose Bautista representing YOUR TORONTO BLUE JAYS...

August 21, 2008 the Jays send minor league catcher Robinzon Diaz to Pittsburgh for 3B Jose Bautista...The Pirates had just acquired Andy LaRoche and gave him the 3rd Base job thus leaving Bautista out of a job and headed for AAA...he wasn't at AAA long before the trade that sent him north of the border...the rest, as they say, is history...Robinzon Diaz has 1 career HR currently, while Jose had a season for the record books in 2010...

Jose all smiles after another HR
Jose's rise to prominence got off to a slow start in the T-Dot...Manager Cito Gaston liked Jose and tried to give him playing time whenever he could, but Jose looked like his future was patrolling one of the corner outfield spots...jobs that were already spoken for (Adam Lind and Alex Rios...and 3rd Base was taken by the amazing Scott Rolen who is an outstanding defensive 3rd Baseman)...that is until August 9 2009 when the Chicago White Sox made a surprising Waiver Claim on Alex Rios...the move meant that the Jays would rid themselves of Rios' contract and attitude, and meant line-up changes too...Adam Lind was moved to the everyday DH leaving an opening in the OF for Bautista to play every day...an injury to Marco Scutaro also allowed Jose to slide into the leadoff spot and get a lot of at-bats in September...Jose flourished with the chance to play everyday...he finished 2009 with 13 HR's, 10 of which came in this September stretch we are talking about...

September 2009 put Jose Bautista on the Jays radar as as a guy that can be counted on to produce more in 2010...the plan in Spring Training was to keep Lind as the DH and have Bautista have a chance to be the everyday RF as the team broke camp...I heard from people like Gaston and Aaron Hill that the team was really excited about the 2010 that Bautista was going to have because they could see when he was given the ball he really ran with it...he was tagging everyone in Spring Training...now it is Spring Training so no need to get too excited, but the way Bautista was squaring up every pitch allowed for a lot of optimism

Jays HR kings Bell and Bautista
 Jose Bautista gaudy 2010 #'s (Jays record-breaking #'s)... .260 batting average (career high)... .378 On Base Percentage (career high)...100 walks (career high)...109 runs scored (career high)...148 hits (career high)...35 Doubles (1 shy of tying career high)...3 Triples (ties career high)...54 HR's (career high and Jays record!)...124 RBI's (career high)...his 92 Extra-Base-Hits (career high) also led MLB, as did his 351 Total Bases...1 HR every 10.5 AB's

The next closest HR hitter to Jose was Albert Pujols in St. Louis with 42...in the American League no other batter even reached 40!  Paul Konerko in Chicago belted 39 to be 2nd to Bautista...Bautista's margin of 15 HR's more than any other player in the same League is the largest margin since 1956 when Mickey Mantle hit 20 HR's more than the 2nd place finisher Vic Wertz

pic of the front leg kick that starts Jose's timing
 Toronto Hitting Coach Dwayne Murphy (who also was Luis Gonzalez's Hitting Coach in Arizona during his 57 HR 2001 campaign) showed Bautista that his timing mechanism (the way he tries to time his swing beginning with the front leg lifting and then planting down to begin the swing) was slightly off which caused the rest of his body (in particular his shoulders) to play catch-up thus over compensating to try to get the bat through the strike zone on time to square up the pitch...when timing is the issue being a part-time player is hardily the cure...you need 4 AB's every day, and 500+ on the season to see the fruits of your labour...heck lets remember that the hardest thing to do in all of sports is square up a baseball (ask the Reds if they could square up anything against Doc Halladay in Game 1 of the NLDS) so if your timing causes you to miss the center of that baseball even my millimeters that is the difference between a 405 foot HR, or a pop out to the SS...Jose's HR's come as line drives to left field...I only recall 1 of his 54 HR's leave the park over the Right Field Wall...the average height of a Bautista Bomb is lower than most HR's, and has a faster MPH speed as it leaves the park than most people as his hitting timing is great now (thank you Dwayne Murphy) and he is hitting line drives that leave parks in a hurry

Bautista says it was the confidence he got from working with Murphy on his timing - not the 10 September HR's in 2009 - that has turned his swing from a reaction swing, into an aggressive swing like we saw this year...a swing that produced 9 multi-HR games in 2010

For such a record breaking year it sure started slow HR-wise for Jose...the opening month of April saw Bautista hit in the Lead-Off spot and only amass 4 HR's...May was a 12 HR month, but back to just 4 again in June...the rest of the season was very consistent and power-filled for Jose with 11,12,11 in the final 3 months

May 16 @ Rogers Centre...Jose hits #10 off Rangers starter Colby Lewis in a 5-2 Jays win

Jun 22 @ Rogers Centre...Jose hits #19 off of St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia, then #20 off Cardinals reliever Kyle McClennan in a 9-4 loss

July 22 @ Rogers Centre...Jose hits #29 off of starter Kevin Millwood, then #30 off of reliever Alfredo Simon...8-2 Jays win over Baltimore

August 23 @ Rogers Cetnre...Jose hits #39 vs Yankees starter Ivan Nova, then #40 off reliever David Robertson in the 8th inning to give the Jays a 3-2 win

September 15 @ Rogers Centre...the only run the Jays would score in a 3-1 loss the the O's is a 1st inning Bautista Bomb - #47 on the year tying him for the Franchise single-season HR record with George Bell (George hit 47 in 1987...scroll down or check my blog archives to see my blog on Bell's 1987 season)

Jose rounds the bases for HR #48

Jays were off on Septmeber 16, which brings us to Septmeber 17 @ Fenway Park where Jose hit his club record-setting 48th dinger off of Red Sox reliever Michael Bowden (pictured left)

September 23 @ Rogers Centre...the Jays use 5 pitchers to shut out the Seattle Mariners 1-0...King Felix Hernandez went the distance for the M's, but Jose Bautista hit HR # 50 in the 1st inning of this 1-0 Jays victory...Jose becomes the first player since 2007 to go deep 50 times
September 30 @ Target Field...Jose hits #53 vs Twins reliever Pat Neshak - oh by the way it was a MONSTER shot, and a Grand Slam...then #54 in the 9th off reliever Jose Mijares - this one went out over the Right Field wall and it is the only opposite-field round-tripper I remember all year for Jose

Jose was particularly nasty to the Orioles and Red Sox hitting 9 and 8 HR's vs them...ironically the series that the Jays played in hitter-friendly parks like The Ballpark in Arlington and Coors Field produced barely even a hit let alone a HR...Jose delighted Jays fans at the Rogers Centre to the tune of 33 bombs hit in the T-Dot...

2010 was a historic season for Jose Bautista, and I cannot wait for his 2011 encore...