Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ask the Bloggers: What Others Think of Jose Bautista

Do you ever find yourself reading another teams blog? Do you find yourself thinking the author is such a homer that he can't see the forest through the trees? As a fan of the Toronto Blue Jays I sometimes wonder if I can't have perspective for my favorite team because I have a bias and I will always look for the best case scenario's. It is because of this that I have decided to try what will hopefully turn into a new feature on this blog, where I ask other blogger's from around the league to weigh in on a specific issue/topic regarding the Toronto Blue Jays.

This week I thought I'd start with asking other bloggers the following question:

With an apparent change to his swing, Jose Bautista went from a league average at best player to slugging 54 home runs in 2010. Because of his sudden improvement many were skeptical that he could repeat the success he had last year in 2011, however once again he continues to defy all conventional wisdom and has put up even better numbers early on this season. Is he now an elite player in this league, what do you believe has led to Jose Bautista's success and can he keep it up?

Obviously the correct answer is of course Jose Bautista an elite player and is most likely the second coming of Babe Ruth. However here's what other blogs from around the league have to say:

Response from Bill Ivie of the Cardinals and Royals Blog I70 Baseball

I can tell you, when the 1998 season occurred and McGwire and Sosa were chasing the record, I remember thinking "McGwire is a player I expect this from. Sosa is a flash in the pan." Some said it was because I was a Cardinal fan. But, I'm a fan of baseball more than anything and Sosa just seemed to make a jump. I view Bautista the same way. He is a good player, but his power surge won't last. It's the product of an adjustment and the pitchers dependence on scouting reports. When you scout someone and then use that report to pitch to them and they make an adjustment, you may pitch to a new strength instead of an old weakness. Time and scouting will catch up to him, but he will have a good season or two first.

Response from Daniel Aubain of Colorado Springs Fantasy Baseball Addict

3B/OF Jose Bautista of Toronto is tied for the major league lead with seven home runs, has scored 19 runs and walked 19 times in just 18 games this season. At his current pace, he projects to hit 54 home runs (sound familiar?), score 147 runs and walk 147 times. None of these numbers put him in the stratosphere of "record-breaking" but they should be putting the talk of his 2010 simply being a fluke to rest.

Response from Francisco Hilario Jr of Baseballism and Latinoball

I've had similar discussions with friends and colleagues based on Jose Bautista. I believe that we as both Baseball fans and blogger are somewhat skeptical when it comes to Bautista's success. How can we not feel that way given the last 10-15 years of the "Steroid Era" in baseball. It is easy to say to myself, "Well he never hit more than 20 in a season before last season and now he hits 54?". Maybe he's a late bloomer who has had sub par help when it came to hitting. Look at George Brett who was an average hitter until he came under the tutelage of renown hitting coach Charlie Lau. Maybe all it took was the right person to find the flaw in Bautista's swing.

I believe time will tell if Bautista is an elite player. If he can continue with his current style of hitting for five or more seasons then yes I would be inclined to think of him as an elite player. For me one or two years doesn't cut it. So far this season, he's showing that last year wasn't a fluke. Let's hope he continues on that path.

Response from Cardinals blogger Aaron of El Maquino

I think you'd be crazy to say the guy won't be a beast yet again in 2011. Flash seasons with 30 homers happen once and a while, but coming within nine of Roger Maris is too good to just be a fluke.

Whatever change he made before 2010 has made him a top-five slugger in the American League.

Response from Aaron Sommers of the general baseball blog Blogging From the Bleachers

It is easy to question the legitimacy of Bautista’s sudden career turnaround because the 2010 season was completely unexpected from him. But, it should be pointed out that this goes beyond just the home run totals – which in 2010 surpassed his previous career total of 43. Take a look at his Baseball-Reference page and you can see clearly that during the 2010 season Bautista set new career high marks in nearly every offensive category – batting average, hits, on base percentage, RBI, walks, and more. For much of last season we heard most of the critics jumping to the “he must have been taking something” bandwagon. People wanted to believe it was more likely that he was using a PED than simply a case where the player has figured things out. Yet, with the stingy testing policies in place today and the availability of information online we know, with some degree of certainty, that he was tested multiple times during the 2010 season and passed those tests cleanly.

Bautista seems to have made a change to his swing at the onset of the 2010 season that contributed to the successes he had last year and the early production he’s provided the Blue Jays in 2011. But, this could also be a situation where a player just seems to “figure it out” later than the norm. The question on whether he can sustain this level of production, however, is another matter altogether. The Blue Jays are banking on this being a prolonged period in his career, as evident by the contract extension they recently signed the versatile fielder to. Yet, it is too early to classify Bautista as one of the elite players in the American League because he simply has not produced at this level for a long enough period. Sure, we as fans can credit him for a wonderful 2010 season and we can recognize that his 2011 season has started on the same path. But baseball can be a finicky sport. Players can have one or two solid seasons before fading into obscurity. It happens all the time. Bautista’s ability to maintain this production going forward is going to be the key to where his legacy is set and ultimately whether Toronto was smart in guaranteeing him so much money in the coming years.

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