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The Season That Was: Jose Bautista

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We picked up Jose Bautista last season in a trade with Pittsburgh. We sent catching prospect Robinson Diaz to the Pirates. Diaz had a poor season in Triple-A Syracuse and the Jays soured on him as a prospect. I'm always curious when a team changes it's view of a player off of one bad season, you would think that if you believed in a player you would ride out one bad year. but then Bautista has some power potential and would be useful back up for Scott Rolen who missed a lot of games with injuries. Diaz hit .279/.307/.357 in 41 games as a back up catcher for the Pirates.

Jose has alway been a low batting average, med range power guy with a pretty good eye at the plate. If he hit for a little better average, he could be a good player. In the Community Project we guessed that Bautista would have a .315 OBP and .420 SLG in 300 PA which would work out to a 0 WAR. Or course, we also figured him to play first base in a platoon with Lyle Overbay. We didn't imagine that the Jays would pick up Kevin Millar at that point. Actually I still can't imagine it. Jose's season:

2009 - Jose Bautista 113 336 54 79 13 3 13 40 56 85 4 0 .235 .349 .408

He did better slightly better than we expected, 34 more points of OBP, 12 points lower in SLG but 104 more plate appearances. He didn't play any first base, but played all 3 outfield spots and third base. Fangraphs has figured him to have a WAR of 1.7. A pretty reasonable season all in all. 

As always he hit LHP (.293/.382/.537) far far better than RHP (.202/.331/.333). He really ought to be in a platoon with some left handed batter at one of the several positions he can play. For a good part of the season he wasn't swinging at any pitch from a right-hander, just stood there and hoped that the pitch would throw four balls before he got to 3 strikes. 

He hit much better at home (.257/.377/.427) than on the road (.212/.320/.388).

He was terrible with RISP (.172/.315/.276), terrific with no one on (.270/.381/.464). Seems to be a team trait. 

By month he hit:

April          .317/.404/.463

May            .231/.403/.288

June          .200/.368/.367

July            .220/.286/320

August      .167/.318/.185

Sept/Oct    .257/.339/.606

So, like most of the Jays, he started the season great. Then in May he stopped swinging the bat, literally. There were games we'd guess how many swings he might take during the game. In May, June and August he had more walks than hits. That lasted till September then he started hitting everything. He had 10 of his 13 homers in September and October. So the question is, did he suddenly learn to how to hit? Is this his new level of play? Or was it just hot streak and the first 5 months of the season the real Bautista?

His longest hitting streak was 7 games, real near the end of the season. He also hit a homer in 4 games in a row during that stretch.

Defensively, he played all the outfield spots. His numbers we slightly below average in LF but quite a bit above average in RF. I'd imagine if he played more out there he'd shake out to be a bit above average in the corners. He played 32 innings in CF and didn't look out of place, but I don't think I'd want him to spend a lot of time there. At third base his numbers were about average too. He does have an amazing arm from the outfield. He had 11 assists in just 84 games in the outfield. The league leader in OF assists was Jason Bay with 15 and he played 150 games, half of them in the tiny Fenway LF. I saw one of those assists in Seattle, it was just a terrific throw, I didn't think there was a chance at a play, but he threw the ball on a line and it was a strike from deep in the OF. 

Jose had a one year $2.4 million contract, next year he'd likely be looking for a little bit more. If he hits like he did at the end of the season, he'd be worth a lot more. I don't know, I really don't think he hits well enough to play a corner outfield spot but he hits left-handers well enough, if we could have him platoon with someone. Cito seemed to like him a lot. We'll see what happens this winter.