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The season that was: Jose Bautista

A look at Jose Bautista's 2015 season.

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After 203 home runs, as a Blue Jay and being the face of the franchise and the team leader for the past few years, I'll admit I was wondering how Jose Bautista would react to the team adding Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin to the mix. He's always been pretty proud of his place on the team. I really shouldn't have worried, I should have known that what he wanted most was to win.

Coming into this 8th season with the Jays, he really didn't have anything more to prove to us, other than how he'll age. At 34 he was getting to the age when players (at least in the pre and post steroid era) start to slow down.

And yeah he's slowed a bit but he still put up a good season:

Year   Age  Tm   G  AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS 
2015    34 TOR 153 543 108 136 29  3 40 114  8  2 110 106 .250 .377 .536 .913 

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Baseball Reference has him at a 5.1 WAR, Fangraphs wasn't quite so nice, putting at a 4.5, still giving him a value of $35.6 million to the Jays, making his $14 million contract a huge bargain.

And, of course, he had a terrific time in the playoffs, hitting .293/.408/.659 with 4 home runs, 11 RBI, 8 walks and 7 strikeouts in 11 games. Oh, and one epic bat flip. I've always wanted to see him play in the playoffs, and he didn't disappoint.

Bautista had a .389 wOBA and a 147 wRC+.

Compared to 2014 Jose's walk rate (16.5% up from 15.5) and strikeout rate (15.9 up from 14.3) were up.

His line drive rate was way down (13.9%, down from 17.9), fewer ground balls (37.3% down from 40.4) and more fly balls (48.8 up from 41.7). About the same amount of fly balls left the park (18.4% up from 18.1). Popups were down a bit (14.3% down from 15.0).

Jose didn't have much luck on balls in play, .237 BABIP, down from .287 last year and below his career number of .267.

Surprisingly, Jose had reverse splits, hitting RHP (.255/.376/.556) better than LHP (.231/.382/.452).

He hit better at home (.264/.404/.585 with 23 home runs) than on the road (.239/.351/.491, 17 home runs).

He was better in the second half (.264/.373/.585) than the first half (.239/.381/.491)

And he was terrific with RISP .289/.404/.500.

Jose Bautista by month:

  • April: .164/.325/.443 with 5 home runs and 13 RBI in 18 games.
  • May: .295/.418/.511 with 2 home runs and 17 RBI in 27 games.
  • June: .226/.388/.505 with 8 home runs and 20 RBI in 27 games.
  • July: .219/.300/.458 with 6 home runs and 18 RBI in 25 games.
  • August: .286/.370/.638 with 10 home runs and 20 RBI in 27 games.
  • Sept/Oct: .280/.434/.610 with 9 home runs and 26 RBI in 29 games.
If only whole season could have been like August and September.

His defense wasn't good. Fangraphs has him at a -12.5 UZR/150, and, with him hurting his shoulder, he didn't throw out as many base runners as usual, getting only 4 assists this year. He had 3 error, giving him a .987 fielding average, right at the league average .985 for right fielders.

He seems much better at going in a fly ball, than going back on one. Maybe he could play further back? I do figure he's going to have to be moved to first base, I likely would have him play there so next year.

Fangraphs has him as 2.3 runs better than the average base runner.

His longest hitting streak was 12 games (from May 26 to June 8), longest on base streak was 22 games. His longest stretch without a home run was 13 games.

His favorite team to hit against? He hit .364/.519/1.091 with 2 home runs in 5 games vs. the Mets. But, he also was great vs. the Orioles, hitting .373/.500/.804 with 6 home runs in 15 games. His least favorite? He hit just .111/.111/.111 in 4 games vs. the Phillies.

I do think we are getting close to where it is time to move him to first base. If they don't want to do it in 2016, then, if we sign him again, 2017 for sure. If they don't move him this year, I'd really like them to make sure to give him a game a week at DH. Playing every day at right field is a little much for a 35.

He did DH in 33 games this year, but most of those were after he hurt his shoulder and really couldn't play in the field. He played right every game of August and September (until we clinched). I do think it is a good idea to rest him more often.

I spent the whole season thinking that Bautista hadn't gone on one of those hot stretches where he carried the team for a couple of weeks at a go, but then he finished the season on quite a hot streak and, of course, he was great during the playoffs, so I guess we did get that hot stretch.

There are always people telling us that Jose isn't a leader but, I think that he has proved the type of leader he is several times. Getting in between Josh and umpires Josh was about to dismantle. giving Chris Colabello tips in the outfield, standing up for Devon Travis when Sportsnet made him pay for a suit that they had him buy on a show for the channel.

He's extremely intense. I don't think that is such a bad thing. But, I'm glad to see that he does seem to be able to have fun too.

I'm always amazed at how focused he can get when he's angry. Most of us seem to lose focus when we get mad, not Jose.

And that home run was just amazing

I thought Jose explained the bat flip perfectly, in the Players Tribune:

I wish you could have heard my thoughts in that moment. It's the closest I have ever felt to being a superhero. I felt like I was Batman, and the villain had the girl dangling off the edge of the building. My adrenaline wasn't 10-out-of-10. It was ten-million-out-of-10.

The stage was set.

I was so locked in that all I could see was the pitcher. Everything else was out of focus. It was so loud that it was quiet.

That whole piece was great. I'm sure none of the 'fun police' could so eloquently explain their point of view.

Were these same opinions expressed when Carlton Fisk "waved" his home run fair in '75? Or when Joe Carter jumped around the bases in '93? When I was growing up and I watched iconic moments like those, I was so caught up in the emotion that I got chills. I wasn't thinking about the implications. I was fully immersed in the moment and enjoying it. I loved Cal Ripken Jr. for his poise and control. But I also admired Reggie Jackson for showing his passion and flair.

Those moments are spontaneous. They're human. And they're a whole lot of fun.

I wish people would grow up, stop complaining that the other team is winning in the wrong way. You don't want Bautista to flip a bat, don't throw a pitch down the middle that he can crush. Like Price says 'You don't like it, pitch better'.

I flipped my bat. I'm human. The emotion got to me. It's in my DNA. If you think that makes me a jerk, that's fine. But let's call it what it is. Let's not have these loaded conversations about "character" and the integrity of the game every time certain players show emotion in a big moment. That kind of thinking is not just old school. It's just ignorant.

It would be nice if people would stop all the complaining.