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Jose Bautista (bautijo02)

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Jose Antonio Bautista
(Joey Bats)

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[edit] Biographical Information

"Sometimes I have trouble more than other players dealing with my production being affected by somebody else's mediocrity. It's just the way that I am as a person. It's a tougher pill to swallow for me sometimes." - Bautista in April 2013, commenting on the "mediocre" calls he felt umpires were giving him.

Jose Bautista was a draft-and-follow pick in the 20th round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. After another year of junior college, he was signed by scout Jack Powell in May 2001 and made his pro debut that summer. In 2001, the 20-year-old hit .286/.364/.427 for the Williamsport Crosscutters. The next season, Jose batted .301/.402/.470 for the Hickory Crawdads. He missed time in 2003 due to a right hand injury and only managed to hit .242/.359/.424 for the Lynchburg Hillcats and he hit .348/.429/.522 in 7 rehab games for the GCL Pirates.

That winter, Jose was part of the Dave Littlefield debacle of leaving numerous prospects unprotected. Along with Chris Shelton, he was one of five Pirates taken in the first six picks of the 2003 Rule V Draft as other teams fed on the exposed prospects. He was selected by the Baltimore Orioles and went 3 for 11 with a walk for them. The O's placed him on waivers on May 25th and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays took him. He was 2 for 12 with three walks there and placed on waivers again. Before any team claimed him, the Kansas City Royals bought his contract. For KC, he was 5 for 25 with 12 strikeouts, continuing to see a wasted season like so many Rule V picks - but a much more eventful one in terms of transactions. He was only with the Royals for just over a month, as on July 30th, he was dealt to the New York Mets in exchange for Justin Huber. His New York time was the shortest of any of his five clubs that year as they swung him the same day in a deal to... who else but Pittsburgh again as part of a package with Matt Peterson for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger. With the 2004 Pirates, he struck out 18 times in 40 AB. During the year, he hit .205/.263/.239 in 88 AB over 64 games, not getting a chance to develop a rhythm at the plate and used mostly in difficult roles off the bench.

Pittsburgh named Bautista their minor league player of the year after a .283/.364/.503 year with the Altoona Curve in 2005 (23 homers, 90 RBI). He also hit .255/.309/.373 with the Indianapolis Indians and .143/.226/.179 with Pittsburgh. He made the Eastern League All-Star team and Baseball America rated him as having the top infield arm in the league.

In 2006, Jose began the year at Indianapolis and hit .277/.370/.426. When Joe Randa was hurt, Bautista was called up to back up as a utility man. With center fielders Chris Duffy and Nate McLouth struggling, Bautista was given regular time in center and showed good power and ability to draw a walk. Through August 8th, he was hitting .255/.358/.456 for the Pirates but he finished the year at .235/.335/.420 with a late slump, only hitting .207 in the second half. He did smack 16 homers in the majors.

After a solid winter-ball campaign, Bautista struggled in spring training in 2007 but was still named the starting third baseman with Freddy Sanchez moving to second and José Castillo moving to the bench. Castillo had been the subject of criticism from both manager Jim Tracy and shortstop Jack Wilson over the off-season. Bautista missed time in July after slicing his hand on Chipper Jones' cleats on an attempted steal of third base and was put on the DL.

Bautista on the field at Rogers Centre

Bautista helped the Tigres del Licey to victory in the 2008 Caribbean Series. He hit .250/.385/.600 for the second-best slugging percentage on Licey and one of the better OBPs. He led the team in walks (5), runs (6) and home runs (2) and tied for the RBI lead (4) while playing center field, left field and third base. He tied Miguel Tejada and Roberto Saucedo for the Series lead in homers. He drove in both runs in the first Licey victory over their arch-rival, the Aguilas Cibaeñas, and scored two runs in the finale against the Aguilas. Jose had the first four-hit game of his major league career on May 31, 2008. Bautista hit .237/.318/.396 for a 89 OPS+ for the Bucs that year. He became expendable when Pittsburgh traded for prospect Andy LaRoche; earlier in the season, Pittsburgh had spelled him regularly with Doug Mientkiewicz, not historically a third baseman. He only started 3 of 12 games after the deal, then was demoted to the Indianapolis Indians when Adam LaRoche came off the DL. Bautista said "It doesn't feel good." In 5 games at Indianapolis, Jose was 6 for 20 with 3 walks, 2 doubles, 2 homers, 6 runs and 8 RBI. He was then traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later (Robinzon Diaz). Following the trade, he hit .214/.237/.411 in 21 games as a utility infielder and DH for the 2008 Blue Jays.

In the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Bautista was 1 for 3 off the bench for the Dominican national team. He pinch-hit for David Ortiz with one on and two outs in the 9th inning in game one against the Dutch national team but struck out against Leon Boyd to end a 3-2 upset. He pinch-hit a single off Manuel Corpas in the game two win over Panama. In the third game, he replaced Willy Taveras in center field. In the 11th inning, he faced Boyd with Jose Reyes on. He hit a fly to right but Eugène Kingsale made an error, allowing Reyes to score and give the Dominicans a 1-0 lead. Carlos Marmol failed to protect it, though, and the Dutch rallied to eliminate the Dominican Republic.

He returned to the Blue Jays in 2009, platooning in left field with rookie Travis Snider and backing up veteran Scott Rolen at third base. On August 10th, the Blue Jays let Alex Rios clear waivers, and handed Bautista a starting job. The new rightfielder responded by hitting .175 with 1 HR in 21 games over the next month. On September 10th, Vernon Wells told Bautista: "Think about starting [your swing] as early as you can possibly imagine, so early that it seems ridiculous. And then start even earlier than that.." Over the rest of the season, Bautista hit .270 with 9 HR in 23 games.

He was the Jays' starting right fielder and lead-off hitter at the beginning of 2010 after a strong spring training. While he was soon moved back to the middle of the line-up, with newly-acquired Fred Lewis leading off, he showed completely unexpected power, taking the American League lead in home runs in May, and holding on to it through the All-Star break. He reached the 20-homer mark for the first time in his career before the end of June and was named to represent the Jays at the 2010 All-Star Game. On July 27th, he became the first 30-home run hitter in the major leagues, banging out two long balls in an 8-2 win over Baltimore. The long balls continued into September, as Bautista hit HR number 50 on September 23rd. Bautista finished 2010 with a club-record 54 homers. He earned the Hank Aaron Award as the top hitter in the American League.

Prior to the 2011 season, the Blue Jays signed Bautista to a five-year contract worth $65 million, avoiding salary arbitration and indicating the team's confidence that his breakout season was not a fluke. Indeed, he was voted the Player of the Month for April by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America and by the American League, due to his outstanding performance. Bautista led the league that month in almost every major offensive category; he was ranked first in batting average (.366), on-base percentage (.532), OPS (1.312), slugging (.780) and runs scored (25). He led the AL with nine home runs, just one behind Ryan Braun and Alfonso Soriano for the most in the Majors and reached base safely at least once in 23 of the 24 games he played that month. He then turned it up another notch in May, getting his first three-homer game against the Minnesota Twins on May 15th; he had hit key late-game homers in the first two games of the series, as the Jays rode a five-game winning streak to a .500 record. When he led the AL in home runs in June as well, he became the first player to pace a major league circuit in dingers in five consecutive months since Jimmie Foxx in 1933-1934. He also hit his 20th homer in his 44th game of 2011, the third-fastest right-handed batter to 20 home runs in MLB history, following Mark McGwire (1998 and 2000) and Albert Pujols (2006). On June 23rd, the Jays announced that Bautista would be moving to third base; the move was a function of poor production from third basemen Edwin Encarnacion and Jayson Nix and the emergence of OF Eric Thames as the Jays' top hitting prospect. However, that only lasted until another top prospect, 3B Brett Lawrie made his debut with the Jays in early August. Not only was Bautista elected as a starter in the 2011 All-Star Game, he also shattered the record for votes received, with 7.4 million; the previous record had been the 6 million votes received by Ken Griffey, Jr. for the 1994 All-Star Game.

He made an appearance at the Home Run Derby before the 2011 All-Star Game, only managing 4 homers and not getting past the first round. He then suffered a pair of injuries in quick succession, first being sidelined a few days by a twisted ankle suffered while sliding into third base in his first game after the All-Star break, on July 14th against the Yankees, and then being beaned by a pitch thrown by Jake Arrieta of the Baltimore Orioles on July 26th. While he escaped serious injury in both cases, he did miss playing time and went through his longest homer drought in two years, going 14 games between long balls until he connected for his 32nd off David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays on August 2nd. He was briefly passed by Curtis Granderson of the New York Yankees for the AL home run lead, but surged ahead again at the end of the season and finished with a league-leading 43. He also lead the circuit in slugging percentage at .608, OPS at 1.056, and walks with 132. While his power numbers were slightly down from the previous season, the result of being pitched around more, his higher batting average and large number of walks compensated for the drop in doubles and homers. Bautista won both the 2011 American League Hank Aaron Award and the 2011 Silver Slugger Award, his second consecutive year for both honors.

It was announced in March 2012 that Bautista will be on the cover of Sony's "MLB 12 The Show" video game, although only on the Canadian edition (Adrian Gonzalez was on the American cover). He then started the season in a deep slump, after homering on opening day, hitting .181 with only 3 homers and 10 RBI in April. However, he regained his All-Star form in May, and even more so in June, when he was named the American League's Player of the Month. For the month, he hit .271, but with 14 homers, 30 RBI, 22 walks and 24 RBI. He was also named to the All-Star team for the third straight year. Joey Bats also participated in the Home Run Derby, slugging 13 in the first two rounds, earning him a spot in the final; he lost to Prince Fielder who knocked out 12 in the final round against Jose's 7 homers. Shortly thereafter, he suffered a wrist injury in a game against the Yankees and had to go on the disabled list on July 17th. The apparently benign injury sidelined him longer than anticipated, as he was only cleared to resume working out on August 8th. He returned to the Jays' line-up on August 24th, when he went 0 for 4 against the Baltimore Orioles, then left the next day's game in the 3rd inning with more pain in his wrist and was immediately placed back on the DL. At that point, he opted to undergo surgery, ending his season on that disappointing note. In total, he hit .241/.358/.527 in 92 games, with 27 homers and 65 RBIs - good rate stats, but production well below his previous two seasons.

Bautista was back in the Jays' line-up for the beginning of the 2013 season and gave early signs that he was his old self again, homering twice in the team's first three games. He made it back to the All-Star Game for the fourth straight year thanks to 20 doubles, 20 homers and 55 RBIs in 87 games. However, the Jays, who were expecting to compete for the AL East title after an off-season spending spree, were mired in last place. He continued to be he Jays' most dangerous hitter in the second half, but on August 21st, he was placed on the disabled list with bruised hip, ending his season. He hit .259 with 24 doubles, 28 homers and 73 RBI when he played, and the Jays' offense was completely anemic in his absence. He was back with a vengeance in spring training in 2014, when he showed he was fully healthy by slugging 5 doubles and 6 homers in 56 Grapefruit League at-bats. He hit his first two homers of the season in the team's third game, on April 2nd at Tampa Bay, providing the offense in a 3-0 win. Continuing his excellent hitting, he seemed to be continually on base, as he reached by either hit or walk in 35 straight games to start the season. On May 29th and 30th, he showed that he was also a great defensive player, throwing out Kansas City Royals baserunners at first base from his right field position on consecutive days; Billy Butler and Omar Infante were the victims of his great arm. For the second time in four years, he led all players in the voting for the All-Star Game, collecting 5.8 million votes, 300,000 more than second-place finisher Mike Trout. On August 10th, he ended the longest game in Blue Jays history when he singled with the bases loaded against Rick Porcello of the Detroit Tigers in the bottom of the 19th inning for a 6-5 win. He finished the month on a power surge, homering in the Jays' last five games in August. On September 20th, he hit home run #202 as a member of the Blue Jays, tying George Bell for the franchise record.

Sources include 2001-2006 Baseball Almanacs, unofficial Pirates e-mail list

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 5-time AL All-Star (2010-2014)
  • 2-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner: (2010 & 2011/OF)
  • AL Slugging Percentage Leader (2011)
  • AL OPS Leader (2011)
  • AL Total Bases Leader (2010)
  • 2-time AL Home Runs Leader (2010 & 2011)
  • AL Bases on Balls Leader (2011)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2010-2013)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2010 & 2011)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2010 & 2011)
  • 50-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2010)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (2010 & 2011)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (2010 & 2011)

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