Is Jose Bautista the Best Hitter in the AL?

Among the most talked about story lines heading into the 2011 season, few generated as much interest as Jose Bautista‘s attempt to follow up on his monstrous season from last year. The universal consensus was that he would take a step backward, as it was a given he wouldn’t hit 54 home runs again, but the question was just how far back would he go?  Perhaps it’s time to change the question.

Bautista’s ridiculous start to the season – he’s now hitting .359/.506/.750, good for a Major League best .533 wOBA after making just two outs over the course of the three games against the Rays this weekend – has effectively ended any legitimate speculation about whether Bautista’s season was an enormous outlier. He is still doing all of the things that made him so good last year, only now he’s proving that he can do it while hardly seeing any pitches in the strike zone, and his patience has upped his walk rate to elite levels as well.

So, instead of asking just how far Bautista will regress, perhaps the more relevant question now is whether or not Bautista is currently the best hitter in the American League. It’s a question that would have seemed ludicrous 12 months ago, but what Bautista has done since – and done consistently – while adjusting to a changing approach from opposing pitchers has made this a legitimate query.

Perhaps the best place to start when answering questions of this nature are the updated ZIPS projections we have here on the site, courtesy of Dan Szymborski. Not surprisingly, the consistent excellence of Albert Pujols still has him on top, though Joey Votto is making a hard charge at the title for best hitter in the National League. After those two, however, there are three AL hitters whose projected lines for the rest of the season are all pretty similar:

Miguel Cabrera: .307/.396/.567, .408 wOBA
Adrian Gonzalez: .311/.402/.551, .404 wOBA
Jose Bautista: .261/.378/.548, .403 wOBA

Considering that Bautista is third on this list, and has the lowest projected numbers in BA, OBP, and SLG, you might wonder why we’re even asking if Bautista is a better hitter than either of the two more established sluggers ahead of him. After all, Cabrera has been mashing since he came into the league, and Gonzalez made The Leap a few years ago while playing in a far less hitter friendly environment, and along with their top prospect pedigrees, their history makes it easier to believe that their skills are “real”.

But what if we look beyond the expected results and look into what ZIPS is projecting in terms of the numbers that are generally considered core components with fewer variances around them – walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated slugging? Changing perspectives leaves us with a slightly different picture.

Miguel Cabrera: 12.6 BB%, 19.0 K%, .263 ISO
Adrian Gonzalez: 12.7 BB%, 20.4 K%, .242 ISO
Jose Bautista: 15.1 BB%, 23.8 K%, .289 ISO

Bautista is projected to have both the best walk rate and the most power of the three going forward, and while his strikeout rate is higher than both, that isn’t the reason that the other two have slightly higher wOBA projections. The real driver in the difference for their projected lines?

Miguel Cabrera: .322 BABIP
Adrian Gonzalez: .345 BABIP
Jose Bautista: .264 BABIP

Gonzalez’s BABIP projection is a bit odd, honestly – his career mark is just .311 and his prior season best is .340. Yes, those numbers occurred in Petco so there needs to be a park adjustment, but his career BABIP on the road is just .325, so the number still seems aggressive to me. But, of course, the real outlier here is Bautista, whose mark is well below average, and is the reason his rate stats are relatively low compared to his core skill numbers. 

Bautista is an extreme fly ball hitter, and since most his balls in play are either going over the wall or being chased down in the outfield, his skillset is perfectly suited to generate low BABIPs. But even with the disadvantafe taken into account, the .233 mark he put up last year was still exceptionally low, and given the natural variance in BABIP results even among hitters, it’s not exactly easy to estimate what his “true talent” BABIP is now that he’s a pretty different hitter than he was earlier in his career. His .272 career mark would be helpful, but now he hits more fly balls than he used to hit. To counter that, though, he also seems to hit the ball a lot harder than he used to, and his BABIP for 2011 is currently .381 – though obviously in a sample too small to mean anything.

But, really, projecting BABIP isn’t something any of us are particularly good at. We can look at a guy like Austin Jackson and say “that’s going to regress”, but how far it will is something we don’t really have a great handle on. There’s a lot of noise in BABIP, but there’s enough skill differences between hitters that it’s not just as simple as regressing everyone back to the league average. We can be pretty sure that Cabrera is going to post a higher BABIP than Bautista this year, but I don’t know that we have a good sense of what the margin will be.

And right now, BABIP is the major area where ZIPS gives an advantage to Cabrera and Gonzalez, but if we’re willing to admit that it’s the number that we’re probably least confident in projecting – and I think we should be – then the gap essentially disappears and, depending on how you want to project Baustista’s BABIP, he might even take the lead.

Of course, these projections are for the player in their given home park, and Bautista certainly gets a benefit from playing half of his games in Toronto, so we’d have to then ratchet his park-adjusted numbers back down, which would knock him a peg behind Cabrera at least. Is that counteracted by the fact that Bautista’s projection still includes significant data from 2008 and 2009, however, while it might be reasonable to assume that data from those years is less relevant for him than it is for comparable players? That’s tough to say, honestly.

Guys have looked like they made The Leap before, and then have reverted to prior form, but Bautista’s drastic changes suggest that he’s made some real sustainable gains. Like with Cliff Lee, there are real improvements we can point to that justify diminishing the value of previous performances, and while I don’t think Bautista is going to keep his current pace up, nor do I think he’s going back to anything close to what he was before.

Essentially what it comes down to is how much weight you put on the most recent performance. If you think Bautista’s eight month power binge is evidence that he’s a changed hitter, then it’s hard to get away from the conclusion that he has passed Miguel Cabrera and is now the best hitter in the American League. More conservative types might want to see him keep this up a little bit longer before making drastic changes in their evaluations. I’m not sure either side has enough evidence to be clearly right or wrong, honestly.

So, we probably can’t say with certainty that Bautista is the best hitter in the AL right now. He might be, though, and at the very least, he’s in the discussion, and he’s making a fantastic case for himself.




Print This Post



Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


97 Responses to “Is Jose Bautista the Best Hitter in the AL?”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. William says:

    Really? No mention of A-rod? The guy who’s 2nd in wOBA but actually has a sustainable babip?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jean says:

      where is A-Rod?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dave says:

        I’m guessing A-Rod isn’t in the article because his projections weren’t as friendly as the other hitters mentioned. He had some question marks coming into the year and with his age not too many people were high on him before the year started, and for good reason as he had consistently trended down the last 3-4 years. Yes he is tearing it up with sustainable looking peripherals and could be in for a monster year but this article is more to illustrate that Bautista should be considered a premier hitting force in the AL and not just an above average to good hitter like most thought going into this season. While his BABIP is unsustainable and his average will eventually fall the power is showing to be legit and like Votto he seems quite content to be an on-base monster taking his walks as pitchers pitch around him.

        I’d be interested to see if there is a significant difference in how he is pitched with nobody on compared to other hitters. Last week Bautista had 9 hits, six for extra bases (4 HR, 1 2B, 1 3B), and only 4 RBI all on the HRs obviously. Of his 7 HR this year, 6 have been with nobody on (the other 3 run job) and for a guy slugging .750 with 7 bombs you would figure him to have more than 10 RBI though 18 games. 9 of his 10 RBI are via HR leaving only 1 RBI coming from his other 16 hits and sac fly opportunities. I’m sure part of it is the horrible OBP of the guys in front of him and some small sample size but I’m curious how much could be the pitchers willing to put him on base instead of pitch to him with guys on.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Steve says:

        I don’t know where A-Rod is, but I bet he’s eating popcorn wherever he is!! I mean, who eats popcorn?! What a jerk. Jeter would never eat popcorn.

        +66 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Slats says:

        Doing ‘roids.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CMC_Stags says:

      His BABIP may be sustainable, but his ISO is 200 points above his 2009-2010 range. That will regress and his wOBA will fall with it. He will not continue to walk in over 20% of his PA, that will regress and his wOBA will fall with it.

      Should he have been in the conversation? Probably. His RoS wOBA projection is .403 which lands him between Gonzalez and Bautista. Is he likely the best hitter in the AL for the rest of the season, probably not, but who knows for sure.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • William says:

        I don’t think you can only compare him to 09-10 only. He is still the guy who had that 07. He obviously won’t sustain this, but Bautista won’t sustain his stats either. He should’ve been in the conversation, that was the point.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • William says:

        And he’s only 10th in HR/FB. His babip is average. He has no obvious luck right now.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Dustin says:

        A .381 BABIP is average? Since when? Average is about .300 and for fly ball hitters average would even be a little lower than that. His BABIP will regress some and lower his average.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CMC_Stags says:

        William -

        If you think his .438 ISO is sustainable when his career average is .270 and the last two full seasons have average .240.

        That’s pretty obviously luck. Especially with his LD% down and his FB% up.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • William says:

        Dustin- his babip is 308 last time I checked.

        CMC- I said he “obviously won’t sustain this” My argument was that only looking at last year’s stats ands discounting his career completely was short-sighted.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Alex says:

      When a player is turning 36 this July it’s hard to say, “look back at 2007″. Obviously you have to factor in that A-Rod is getting older and has been regressing.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • William says:

        Except even in 08 and 09 he was above a 400 wOBA. It really was just oen year, the year after a major surgery,

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Big Jgke says:

    I think the point was to stress how good Bautista’s been, not to dismiss A-Rod or any of the other guys.

    +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Danny says:

    Watching Bautista over the weekend against the Rays was amazing. He hit a bomb off David Price his first time up – next at bat, Price throws him 4 straight off speed pitches for a 3-1 count – looks like he is completely pitching around Jose. Next pitch is another off speed offering down in the zone. Jose hits an absolute bullet over the fence – probably didn’t go higher than 20 feet in the air. Price just looks at him like “how the hell did you do that?”

    +31 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MattK says:

      That was great seeing Price’s reaction, even James Shields walked him to start the 9th inning when there was no reason to pitch around him. I forget if it was on 4 pitches also.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • pedro says:

      I’m with Danny – I don’t think anybody in baseball swings or hits the ball harder than Bautista right now. His double in the first game of that series absolutely ate up Sam Fuld who barely had to move but still couldn’t catch it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Dr Dinger says:

    This is no “8 month” power binge.

    In fact, it’s 11 months at least, not counting the off-season.

    Since September 2009, Jose Bautista leads the major leagues with 71 home runs. The next closest is Albert Pujols with 55. We are talking about a 16 home run differential to the NEXT CLOSEST hitter in the majors, the man who is inarguably the best hitter of a generation.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. RC says:

    “Adrian Gonzalez: .311/.402/.551, .404 wOBA
    Jose Bautista: .261/.378/.548, .403 wOBA”

    How does .024 OBP and .003 SLG only lead to .001 wOBA?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. RC says:

    “Yes, those numbers occurred in Petco so there needs to be a park adjustment, but his career BABIP on the road is just .325, so the number still seems aggressive to me. ”

    Fenway is a fantastic park for lefties who can loft the ball to the opposite field. Also, most guys tend to hit better at home than on the road. (most guys who don’t call petco or safeco home)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • joe says:

      Yeah, because pitchers would never change their approach (and say bust him inside given Fenway’s dimensions)

      While it’s nice to overlay the balls at Petco and apply them to Fenway (or take his road stats), pitchers do factor in the park… The wall will certainly help some, but you can’t assume he will see the same pitch mix and selection… I think he will be pitched in a lot in the AL (especially in Fenway)

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • RC says:

        I’m not assuming that hes going to see the same pitches. I’m assuming that Park factors aren’t fantasy.

        Its EASIER to hit doubles, HR, Singles, etc, in Fenway than in Safeco.

        If he gets pitched IN a lot in Fenway, we’re going to see a lot of homeruns. The rightfield line is 302′.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. dudley says:

    Thanks Dave–I really appreciated your breakdown of ZIPS into the component parts. I’d be interested to know how ZIPS comes up with the BABIP projections.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Bill says:

    Some of us can’t remember what Bautista’s swing was like before the recent power surge. I’d love to see a before/after video breakdown. I suspect this would go a long way to explaining the escalating FB%, HR/FB rates. If it in fact there was a definite change in swing or even bat size, then that would be another reason to expect the power surge to sustain.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Jdubb77 says:

    As a Toronto fan, I have just loved seeing him pound the ball. I’d like to think it’s sustainable…it looks sustainable. Hearing people talk about him in the talent pool of MCab, JVot, and ARod is nice to see!

    All I know is that he is a beast. A BEAST!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Cliff Lee is a great comp here. Major change in approach + some success results in legit confidence. I drafted him in the 3rd of a 15-team mixed and I would have taken him a round earlier but I didn’t have to because no believes.

    Except me.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Curtis says:

    It’s obvi early in the season (as everybody has kept in mind in the article and comments), but Toronto has to be happy about signing him to that extension. It’s a steal if he can even sniff sustaining this production.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. Young Gung says:

    Eye-opening post Dave, solid stuff.

    I remember there was a post before on Bautista and I commented on it saying that his weaknesses last year were outside edges off the plate according to his fox hotzone and that pitchers need to pitch him more that way. Someone else replied that they already started to do that and he’s handling well. Looks more and more the case now. This guy is probably gonna lead the league in walks, smh…unbelievable how fast.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave says:

      Yeah both those previously mentioned homers of Price were on the outer 3rd/edge. The 94mph heater he went “oppo” over the 375 marker in left center (with how dead pull his home runs were last year I consider anything other than down the line or straight away left oppo, lol). And then the second bomb he pulled a slider/cutter into the bullpen in left and it was in pretty much the same spot on the outside edge as his previous homer.

      Can’t pitch him inside cause he’ll hit the foul pole. Can’t pitch him away cause he’ll go with the pitch to left center. Might as well walk him.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Xeifrank says:

    Babip or xBabip the better stat to use?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. mcneo says:

    When are we going to get Hit F(x) data!!! Wouldn’t it be great to know who was really hitting the ball hard?

    Besides the coolness factor, I think projections would be much better using plate discipline numbers as well as the velocity of the ball off the bat, and angle the ball was hit.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • joser says:

      PitchFX already captures initial velocity and angle off the bat (it doesn’t pick up spin, though, which can create considerable divergence from the initially computed path over the flight of the ball). That data has been available for several years at HitTracker

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Bronnt says:

        The problem with HitTracker is that it’s only home runs. There are really hard hit balls which don’t end up leaving the year. Would be nice to see thngs like “Average velocity off the bat,” and “average distance/fly ball”

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • everdiso says:

        not just “nice”, but necessary, IMO.

        it seems so obvious that it would be by far the best way to evaluate hitters.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Matty Brown says:

    Great article dCam!

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. jpg says:

    What makes Bautista’s metamorphasis so incredible is that his improvement is threefold. I have zero stats to work off of and my comps might be way off but this is how I percieve Bautista’s rise: He went from being a Matt Stairs type for most of his career through August 2009 (low BA, some pop, fringe regular on a bad team/bench player on a good team aka journeyman) Then he from Sept 09′ through last year he became Cecil Fielder. Circa 1989 (low BA, tons of wiffs, enormous power) And right now he’s looking like a light version of Bonds on roids (high BA, same enourmous power, elite on base skills, reduced K rate). We all expected him to take a step backward, except he’s not only better, he’s much better.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • eric says:

      his k rate went up from 2010

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jono411 says:

        no…his k/ab went up, but that’s only because he’s walking a ridiculous amount. his k/pa has stayed constant at 17%. i’ve never understood why fangraphs shows k/ab not k/pa…the later would seem to be a more useful

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Heyward says:

    I’m better

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • eric says:

      wrong league, smart guy

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Boobz says:

      An you’re not. An realistically, may never be (offensively speaking).

      That’s not a shot against Heyward who’s already an excellent hitter likely to improve further. But he’s a long way away from producing at Bautista’s current level.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. CircleChange11 says:

    Bautista’s change in approach is sustainable, given his plate disciple. He’s essentially the anti CarGo.

    He looks for pitches he can pull in the air, has the right swing path, and lays off everything else until he has to swing.

    The pitcher type that would likely give him trouble are the “Tom Glavines”, guys that can live on the outside and change speeds. There simply aren’t many Glavines out there.

    While it’s not directly applicable, I have noticed the best hitting prep teams use the same approach. The simply sit dead red on the inner half, and refuse to swing at off-speed and outer half pitches … and they aren’t secretive about it. There are not enough marksmen on the bump to force a change in approach and eventually the P either has to give into the hitter or makes a mistake in location.

    There’s no reason that a batter like Bautista, who has the eye, bat speed, and swing path, could not sustain the approach. He appears to be able to continue to have a high enough HR/FB ratio to not change. Even if he becomes an extreme TTO batter, he’s extremelly valuable.

    I think more college players will take this approach now that the bats are not as lively. If they’re going to hit HRs they’re going to have to sit dead red and/or inner half and have the bat speed and swing path to not get jammed.

    His approach is definitely sustainable, but we likely need a little more data (but probably not much) to have high confidence that the HR/FB rate is. The 71 HR over ~1.5 seasons is more towards legit than fluke.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cam says:

      It’s just a shame that Bautista didn’t figure it out until he was almost 30. He only has a few more years left before age starts to set in. A young guy with the same tools could make themselves an easy $100 million by studying Jose’s approach.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Cool Fact says:

    According to Baseball-Reference,Bautista has a career 112 OPS+ while in the six seasons before last year never recording even an average OPS+. This actually even holds for each team he played on for years when he played on multiple teams — which he has done a lot.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. jpg says:

    CC-agree with everything except the part about Glavine giving him trouble. I believe that the opposite would occur. Frankly I think Bautista would destroy Glavine. Glavined, in addition to the reasons you mention, was great because he abused undisciplined hitters, espescially young hitters. I believe Bautista would lay off Glavine’s outside nibblers and hammer anything that catches the plate. His discipline and pitch recognition is too good right now. Glavine’s best shot is with an umpire who has a wide zone that he could expand. It would for Bautista to swing at soft stuff out of the zone. Conversely, an umpire with a tigh zone would spell doom Glavine. I think a guy like Brandon Webb in his prime, with a hard and heavy sinker would trouble Bautista the most. It’s hard to get the proper extension and lift to pull the ball in the air against him.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Heinrich says:

    don’t think anybody in baseball swings”
    ——–
    True. And keep in mind that he had a hernia in ’10 while taking that devastating cut. He probably feels much better this season.
    I hope he holds up physically.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. sc2gg says:

    Generic Numbers over the last 6 games:

    AB 17
    H 9
    2B 1
    3B 1
    HR 5
    RBI 5 (lol, go Jays!)
    BB 9
    SO 3

    In the last 26 plate appearances, he’s been on base 18 times, with 27 total bases in 17 AB.

    His head ratio is about 0.65 of a Barry, too.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. everdiso says:

    Fangraphs’ value calculator tells me that here 86 plate appearances into the season, Bautista has already outearned his $8.0m salary.

    nice signing.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bluejaysstatsgeek says:

      I posted something similar on bluebridbanter:

      “He’s paid $8 million this year and at $5 million/WAR that’s 1.6 WAR. Even at 80% of market for final arbitration year, that’s still 2 WAR that he needs to put up to justify his pay. Fangraphs has him at 1.9 WAR and BR has him at 2.0 WAR.”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. fredsbank says:

    i imagine that after tonight this will be followed up by “is jered weaver the best pitcher in baseball right now?”

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Mick in Ithaca says:

    Tonight Colby Lewis gave up a 3 run homer to Paterson on a “fastball” that was above Paterson’s eyes. Bautista comes to the plate and crushes the next pitch, a hanging slider. So in addition to ball/strike pitch recogition, there’s some effective thinking along with the pitcher/catcher. Lewis had thrown him a bunch of sliders in the previous at bat, most of which were low and outside, and Bautista laid off them. If he looks fastball in that situation after Paterson’s homer, he takes a rip and is way ahead of the pitch. But they don’t want to throw him a fastball (esp. not a suspect fastball, which is what Lewis was offering, one that can apparently be tomahawked by a weak hitter even when it’s miles out of the strikezone), so he just looks breaking ball early in the count and is ready to annihilate any mistakes. It’s a small thing, but it’s amazing how few batters (on the Jays anyway) consider the situation and go up there looking for the pitch that the pitcher’s most likely to throw.

    Bautista really looks like he’s significantly better than last season. He may be on a mission to make the doubters and the contract haters eat some serious crow.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. n3fta says:

    Bautista is truly a beast he hit his 8th homerun tonight and was on base 3 times. He has recorded just 2 outs in the past 3 games!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. CircleChange11 says:

    The question of Bautista as best hitter in the AL starts of a good conversation … as would a conversation about Weaver being the best AL pitcher. Weaver has been non-flukey good for multiple seasons.

    Not absurd conversation topics, as they do delve into how we measure “best”.

    I would have said Cabrera, followed by a handful of guys, but Beastista is right there … and he’s interesting because of the whole sustainable question.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Kyle says:

    Weaver is the best pitcher too

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Lewis says:

      Give me Felix any day of the week.

      Dan Haren and Jon Lester too.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nicholas says:

        Interestingly, the Blue Jays have faced all four of those guys (plus David Price, Michael Pineda and Jeremy Hellickson) in their last 15 games. That might also be part of the reason the Jays (other than Bautista) have been having so much trouble scoring runs lately.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Torgen says:

        Only 1 inning of Haren.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Nick says:

    Tony Watson P in the Pirates system does not enjoy the “first initial and first three letters of surname” system of nicknames.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. CooperNB says:

    This article is in the same vein as a lot of Cameron’s stuff. He takes a valid, interesting point and then takes it too far, loses a little credibility and generates a lot of comments. I think Bautista’s a very good and underrated hitter, but I just don’t think he’s better than the other guys mentioned above.

    The “Twins Best Team in Baseball” article he wrote last year was similar. The Twins were pretty good last year, and probably underrated. But much like with this Bautista article, the interesting and valid point ends up going too far.

    It’s interesting enough to write about how remarkable Bautista’s been and his impressive transformation from being a Pirates castoff to a premier slugger. No need to try and say he’s better than Miguel Cabrera.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Conrad says:

      This comment is in the same vein as a lot of CooperNB’s stuff. He takes a valid, interesting article by Dave Cameron and then criticizes it without any evidence, loses a little credibility, and generates very few responses.

      +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Scott says:

      Bautista is improving at an incredible rate. His famous September 09, when he broke out with 10 home runs, only produced an OPS+ of 150. That would have been his fifth best month of 2010, and his second half was considerably better than his first. April 2011 so far has produced a 264, best in the league by far and at a Bondsian level.

      Miggy is a great contact hitter with incredible inside-the-park power, but his home run and walk rates don’t compare with Bautista, and Jose’s currently leading the AL in batting average (although no one expects that to last, .300 isn’t out of the question). Where exactly is Cabrera going to make up that lost value? It takes a hell of a lot of doubles to erase a 15 home run gap.

      Fangraphs says Bautista led the AL in batting value last year, edging out Cabrera and Hamilton, but while they’ve battled personal problems and injuries since then, Bautista’s still developing as an elite hitter. Forget best hitter in the AL, he’s the early frontrunner for 2011 MVP.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CircleChange11 says:

      The point you’re making is not accurate.

      Here’s the stats from the article

      Miguel Cabrera: .307/.396/.567, .408 wOBA
      Adrian Gonzalez: .311/.402/.551, .404 wOBA
      Jose Bautista: .261/.378/.548, .403 wOBA

      … and here’s the conclusion …

      So, we probably can’t say with certainty that Bautista is the best hitter in the AL right now. He might be, though, and at the very least, he’s in the discussion, and he’s making a fantastic case for himself.

      Dave drives me crazy with the Twins stuff (even though the Twins are a very good organization), but this article is about as spot on in terms of accuracy and sabermetric approach as one could get.

      If we, as a sabermetric-inclined community, are going to use wOBA as the ultimate batting stat (which IMO, it is) … then the discussion is very valid, and the conclusion is nowhere near exaggerated … but the conclusion is pretty far ahead of where many fans’ perceptions are in regards to Bautista.

      In reputation, he is lagging. In WPA, he is lagging. I give Cabrera a big bump for WPA. But, in terms of wOBA, the numbers speak for themselves.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CircleChange11 says:

        That’s with the realization that the updated zips projections still include data that far removed from the “Bautista 2.0″ of the last 1.5 seasons.

        My guess is that he outperforms his updated Zips projections.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • everdiso says:

      How is the point taken too far?

      2010 + 2011

      wRC+

      1) J.Bautista 178
      2) J.Hamilton 177
      3) J.Votto 177
      4) M.Cabrera 173
      5) J.Morneau 168

      wOBA

      1) J.Votto .446
      2) J.Hamilton .442
      3) J.Bautista .437
      4) M.Cabrera .431
      5) J.Morneau .421

      HR

      1) J.Bautista 62
      2) A.Pujols 49
      3) P.Konerko 44
      4) M.Cabrera 43
      5) J.Votto 41

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • everdiso says:

      How is the point taken too far?

      2010 + 2011

      wRC+

      1) J.Bautista 178
      2) J.Hamilton 177
      3) J.Votto 177
      4) M.Cabrera 173
      5) J.Morneau 168

      wOBA

      1) J.Votto .446
      2) J.Hamilton .442
      3) J.Bautista .437
      4) M.Cabrera .431
      5) J.Morneau .421

      HR

      1) J.Bautista 62
      2) A.Pujols 49
      3) P.Konerko 44
      4) M.Cabrera 43
      5) J.Votto 41

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. JimD says:

    Bautista makes me happy. He, Romero and Morrow are the only thing keeping me a Jays fan.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen any righthanded batter crush pitches the way Bautista has the last two seasons, and only Bonds’ late run is comparable across the board. The bat speed he generates for such a short stroke is ridiculous.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Bob says:

    Glad you mentioned Bonds’ late career comp. Couldn’t have said it better myself, Mr. Conte.

    -8 Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Jon says:

    Dave:

    Great article, but just wanted to point out that Bautista seems to have made changes before the end of the ’09 season, so its more than an 8 month adjustment in his power. Other than that, excellent analysis and I’m a believer now.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. Neil L. says:

    Gotta agree with JimD, Bautista is absolutely scorching the ball. For those of you who did not see Price’s reaction to the HR, it was like his head was on a swivel the ball got out of the park so quickly!

    Not a troll, Jason!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • That website is garbage says:

      Just in case anyone comes stopping by these comments anytime soon, don’t bother clicking on that link just above this.

      For a website called “sabermetric” apple, I expected a wee bit more than some guy saying “Yeah he hit a lot of home runs all of a sudden, so I think he’s on steroids.” Seriously, folks, that’s about it.

      Garbage.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. sc2gg says:

    If the season had started exactly 10 games ago, Bautista would currently be on pace for:

    258 walks
    258 hits
    65 HR

    He’s having a good stretch, here.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. CircleChange11 says:

    Well, now he’s power hitting to all fields. Heh Heh.

    I know we cannot just ignore completely his pre-2009 career, just as we cannot completely ignore Cliff Lee’s pre-CYA years.

    But, it’s obvious that Beastista’s change in approach, like Lee’s tranformation, has made him a completely different hitter.

    I would love to read an interview with Bautista and/or a TBJ batting coach in regards to the behind the scenes discussions/methods that have contributed to this. It’s not like he added 40 pounds of beef to go from average to power hitter, but that it is something to do with the combination of approach and mechanics.

    I’m not sure I can swing the math, but much of Bautista’s “regression projections” incorporated ~1.7 years of performance that no longer reflects the same player. If we looked at only the time period of Sept 2009 through 2010, what might JB’s 2011 projection line look like?

    I know the PED point would have to be made given recent history. But at this point, I’s be surprised if that’s it. PEDs can only do so much. I’d also question how he could continually beat the test, even though it is possible. One of my buddies thinks that being accused of PED use is the greatest compliment that your performance can get, but I wonder just how likely that can be in ’10 and ’11.

    But really, I was curious as to what JB’s ’11 projection would look like if we just examined late 09 and 10, when his transformation took place. It’s fairly obvious that any projection that had him at 30-32 HR incorporated too much old Bautista or regression to the mean. His mean has moved.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current ye@r *