The Bautista: A Visual Look at Homerun Paces

We all know that Jose Bautista is destroying worlds this season: the Bautista (hat tip: Bradley Woodrum) has mashed 20 homeruns and posted a .513 wOBA, accumulated 5 WAR in only 61 games. To put that in some perspective, his .513 wOBA would rank 22nd all-time if the season ended today, and when you adjust for the scoring environment, it’d rank as the fourth best offensive season in major league history (trailing only Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds). He’s having a season for the record books.

In thinking about this recently, I started pondering: how does Bautista’s homerun pace compare with other all-time great seasons? We’re all captivated by a homerun race, and while Bautista isn’t going to break any single-season homerun records, has his homerun pace been as impressive as the rest of his season? And so, I decided to compare his 2011 season against batters that hit 70+ homeruns (Bonds, 2001), 65 homeruns (McGwire, 1999), 60 homeruns (Ruth, 1927), and 54 homeruns (Bautista, 2010). Take a peek:

Please realize that is NOT meant to be predictive, and not meant to suggest that Bautista is going to mash 60 homeruns; it’s merely a kicks and giggles. As you can see, 60 games into the year, almost all the top homerun season are fairly close together; Barry Bonds is the lone exception, but the rest of the seasons are all somewhere between the low-20s and high-teens. Heck, Mark McGwire only had 19 homeruns at this point in the season, and he went on to hit 65. Anything can happen going forward.

But like Bonds in the years after 2001, Bautista needs to be pitched to in order to hit homeruns. His trend-line for this season has flat-lined over the last 10 games, but that’s not really his fault; he’s been walked nine times in his last five games. There’s no reason for pitchers to throw to Bautista in most circumstances, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up falling short of reaching his homerun total from last year, even though he’s currently on a better pace.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, here are those same players looked at over the course of the full season:

Quick Hits:

• Babe Ruth sure finished strong in ’27. Over his last 30 games, he was hands down the hottest hitter of this bunch. If he’s had the same amount of games the rest did, it certainly looks like he’d have ended up somewhere near McGwire’s mark.

• Barry Bonds = insane.

• Bautista had a cold stretch for homeruns right around this time of the season last year before heating up again. That’s a total coincidence, I’m sure, but it means that Bautista can afford to slow down for a bit and still keep ahead of his pace from last year.

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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.

28 Responses to “The Bautista: A Visual Look at Homerun Paces”

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  1. bikozu says:

    Awesome post, thanks!!

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  2. Ben says:

    Man, Barry Bonds had an awfully good week from games 39-45ish that season.

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  3. Chris says:

    Why choose McGwire circa 99 instead of 98?

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    • Good question – I wanted to see how paces broke down for players at each different tier. Notice I picked players that finished around 5 homeruns apart.

      McGwire’s line 1998 looked very similar to Bonds in 2001. I figured the 1999 one made for a bit of a more interesting scenario.

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  4. tenags says:

    Interesting that the lines begin to hit flat stretches between the 50-80 game marks.

    -Bonds went flat from games 70 to 90
    -Ruth went flat from 55 to 65 and then from 80 to 90
    -McGuire had a couple flat spots from 55 to 75
    -’10 Bautista went flat from 50 to 80

    So even though ’11 Bautista has been on a bit of a cold stretch, its been proven in the past that home runs can come in bunches…. Good stuff!

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  5. Drew L. says:

    A note in Bautista’s favor is that Adam Lind came off of the DL this past weekend and has 3 Home Runs of his own in 4 games (strangely enough 5/7 with 3 HRs at 1B and 0/7 as a DH which he has complained about before). If he can regain his ’09 form, which he seems to be doing, Bautista will likely get “intentionally” walked less than with Juan Rivera batting cleanup.

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    • Big Jgke says:

      Was about to post something to this effect. Lind makes pitching around Bautista that much harder. As does Arencibia continuing to show a tonne of power.

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  6. Kool says:

    Interesting article and shiny graphs. The “kicks and giggles” was cute. How do each of these rates rank overall?

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  7. harryddunn says:

    Roger Maris?

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  8. Dave says:

    Finally! A Bautista article. It’s been over two weeks!

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  9. Dr. Anthony Galea says:

    Anyone notice my offices are actually in Toronto?

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    • Jesus Christ says:

      In all sincerity, Fuck your face.

      +22 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Big Jgke says:

        Seriously, there has to be some sort of limit on this bullshit. If you are going to trot out the lamest, most overdone, hackneyed lines of speculative nonsense, then you’re a moron. Bring the comedy or keep your PED lines in the schoolyard where they belong.

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      • Internet tough guys says:

        Jesus Christ: are you still Jewish?

        big jqke: “bring the funny” as in your comments via, girl-review site?

        big jgke (Uncertified Bastard)
        ‘call me a loser, but what’s a reverse cowboy?
        PS pic 8 is the best of the bunch, there is something scary about her skin.’

        [on Mariah Carey]
        ‘big jgke (Uncertified Bastard)
        looks like more of a tight end to me..’

        Jesus, you’re aight for a Jew.

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    • scottz says:

      JC and BJ,

      Is the good doctor’s post really that offensive and/or not funny? There are loads of fake name posts that put stuff up for comedy’s sake, and quite a few less humorous than this one.

      If he’s trolling, trolling only works if the fish bite. If he’s having fun, let him have fun. What’s the harm?


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      • Nox says:

        You missed the point BJ was making. All of the PED speculation is so, so old. To just rehash the same nonsensical trash that’s been shot down on this and any other self respecting baseball site is completely tiresome.

        JC sums up my feelings quite well.

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      • Big Jgke says:

        @ Nox, That’s exactly what I was trying to say.

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  10. Detroit Michael says:

    Also, it might be fun to have graphed Reggie Jackson 1969 too, a well-known (ot at least it was) example of a guy who hit a ton of homers in the first half but whose pace slowed after the all-star break.

    After 60 games, Reggie was at 26 HRs.

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  11. fredsbank says:

    maris and mantle in ’61?

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  12. filihok says:

    Game 40: May 17 vs Florida 1 HR
    Game 41: May 18 vs Atlanta 1 HR
    Game 42: May 19 vs Atlanta 3 HR
    Game 43: May 20 vs Atlanta 2 HR
    Game 44: May 21 vs Arizona 1 HR
    Game 45: May 22 vs Arizona 1 HR

    Not a bad week at all: 11 for 20, 1 2B, 9 HR, 11 RsBI, 6 walks, 3 K’s

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  13. Drew L. says:

    Well I posted this situation earlier, but with 2 outs and Runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs with Bautista up the Royals intentionally walked Bautista (after throwing 1 ball…it was quite strange) and then Adam Lind (as a DH!) hit a Grand Slam…so JBau might get some more pitches to hit in the future…

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  14. Great thoughts, everyone. I’ll see if I can make some more of these for some of the other players you mentioned. I feel like a Maris/Mantle chart from ’61 would be really cool.

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