Let’s Get To Know Our HR Leader

Let me here you say it… Jose Bautista. Good. Now say it again… Jose Bautista. It just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Pujols and Howard.

He, my friends, is the current MLB home run leader with 18 long balls through June 5th, which is already a career high for him. And unless you are a Blue Jay fan or Pirate fan, this season may be the first time you have heard of him. Bautista was drafted in the 20th round of the 2000 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates (in the same draft as Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley, and Adam Wainwright). So by no means is he a young rookie you never heard of.

He made his pro debut not with the Pirates but with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (they were still the unlucky Devil Rays then, before the Devil was evil). He was drafted in the 2003 rule 5 draft by the Orioles, then was picked up of waivers by Tampa Bay in 2004. He got purchased from Tampa by the Royals who then traded him to the Mets for Justin Huber. But the Mets didn’t like him either and sent him packing in a trade the same day (it was a 3-team trade) that involved the Mets giving Bautista, Ty Wigginton, and a minor leaguer to receive Jeff Keppinger and Kris Benson from no other than the team who drafted Bautista, the Pittsburgh Pirates. So he rode the merry-go-round all the way back to Pittsburgh. But they still didn’t like him and traded him to the Jays in 2008 for a player TBD later (that player was Robinzon Diaz). So out of all those names, how many did you know? One: Ty Wigginton… maybe two: if you know Jeff Keppinger. And who gets the last laugh? That might be Jose Bautista if he continues his RBI and HR rates.

So let’s take a look at the numbers to tell where the truth lies. Is he the real deal or is he just getting the best of the pitchers’ mistakes.

In 2010, Bautista has increased his fly ball percentage (FB%) by an entire 10%. Up from a career average of 44% to 54%. His line drive percentage (LD%) is slightly down (0.5%), thus it leaves his ground ball percentage (GB%) at a 10% decrease. However, he is seeing just about 10% more off-speed pitches this season, including more sliders and curveballs which tend to induce more ground balls. But when he is seeing fastballs, he is taking them out of the stadium (13 of his 14 HR in May and June are off the heater). Bautista is also swinging at 7% more pitches out of the zone than last season, so he isn’t seeing better pitches by looking at pitches out of the zone and ahead in the count.

What do these numbers say to me… Sell High on Bautista. These numbers and pace aren’t going to stay, they are all out of the ordinary. So if you own him in fantasy, sell now while you can still get something worth while.

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