Jose Bautista (bautijo02)
José Antonio Bautista Santos
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 192 lb.
- School Chipola Junior College
- High School Colegio San Juan Bautista de La Salle
- Debut April 4, 2004
- Final Game September 30, 2018
"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." - Jose Bautista, April 2013, commenting on the "mediocre" calls he felt umpires were giving him
José 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, José 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. He hit .348/.429/.522 in 7 rehab games for the GCL Pirates.
That winter, José was part of Dave Littlefield's latest debacle, the Bucs GM having left numerous prospects unprotected in advance of the 2003 Rule V Draft. Along with Chris Shelton, he was one of five Pirates taken in the first six picks of the 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 in early 2004. The O's placed him on waivers on May 25th and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays claimed 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? Pittsburgh! José was coming home as part of a package (with Matt Peterson) for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger. With the Pirates, he struck out 18 times in 40 at bats. During the year, he hit .205/.263/.239 in 88 at bats over 64 games, not getting a chance to develop any 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 having the top infield arm in the league. In 2006, José began the year at Indianapolis and hit .277/.370/.426. When Joe Randa was hurt, Bautista was called up to be 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 8, he was hitting .255/.358/.456 for the Pirates, finishing the year at .235/.335/.420 with 16 homers after a late slump, only hitting .207 in the second half. After a solid winter ball campaign, Bautista struggled in spring training in 2007 but was still named starting third baseman, with Freddy Sanchez moving to second and Jose Castillo moving to the bench. Castillo had been the subject of criticism from both manager Jim Tracy and shortstop Jack Wilson over the offseason. Bautista missed time in July after slicing his hand on Chipper Jones' cleats during an attempted steal of third base and was put on the DL.
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 scored (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. José had the first four-hit game of his major league career on May 31, 2008, hitting .237/.318/.396 for a 89 OPS+ for the Bucs overall 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 Andy's brother Adam came off the DL. Bautista said "It doesn't feel good." In 5 games at Indianapolis, José was 6 for 20 with 3 walks, 2 doubles, 2 homers, 6 runs and 8 RBI. He was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later (catcher Robinzon Diaz) in a deal Pittsburgh would grow to deeply regret. Following the trade, Jose 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. José 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 10, the Blue Jays let Alex Rios clear waivers and handed Bautista a starting job. The new right fielder responded by hitting .175 with a home run in 21 games over the next month. On September 10, 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 homers in 23 games.
Bautista 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 lineup, 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 27, 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 home run number 50 on September 23rd. Bautista finished 2010 with a club-record 54 homers, earning 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; 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 turned it up another notch in May, achieving his first three-homer game against the Minnesota Twins on May 15; he 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 23, 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 outfielder Eric Thames as the Jays' top hitting prospect. That only lasted until another top prospect, third baseman Brett Lawrie, made his debut with the Jays in early August. Not only was Bautista elected 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.
José made an appearance in the Home Run Derby before the 2011 All-Star Game, only managing 4 homers and not getting out of 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 14 against the Yankees, and then being beaned by a pitch thrown by Jake Arrieta of the Baltimore Orioles on July 26. 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 2. 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 led 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 would be on the cover of Sony's "MLB 12 The Show" video game, although only the Canadian edition (Adrian Gonzalez was on the American cover). He started the season in a deep slump after homering on Opening Day, hitting .181 with only 3 homers and 10 RBI in April. 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 named to the All-Star team for the third straight year and participated again in the Home Run Derby, slugging 13 in the first two rounds, earning a spot in the final; he lost to Prince Fielder who knocked out 12 against José'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 17. The apparently benign injury sidelined him longer than anticipated, as he was only cleared to resume working out on August 8. He returned to the Jays' lineup on August 24, 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 RBI - good rate stats, but production well below his previous two seasons.
Bautista was back in the Jays' lineup 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 RBI in 87 games. However, the Jays, who were expecting to compete for the AL East title after an offseason spending spree, were mired in last place. He continued to be he Jays' most dangerous hitter in the second half, but on August 21, he was placed on the disabled list with a 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 2 at Tampa Bay, providing the offense in a 3-0 win. Continuing his excellent hitting, he seemed to be routinely on base, as he reached by either hit or walk in 35 straight games to start the season. On May 29 and 30, he showed 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 10, 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 20, he hit home run #202 as a member of the Blue Jays, tying George Bell for the franchise record. He finished the season at .283 with 35 homers, 101 runs scored, 103 RBI and 104 walks, winning his third Silver Slugger Award in the process.
Bautista started the 2015 season in an uncharacteristic slump as he was hitless in the team's opening three-game series, striking out 8 times in 12 at bats. He righted the ship in his next game, on April 10, when he tied a personal best by scoring 4 runs and going 3 for 3 with a walk in a 12-5 beating of the Baltimore Orioles. José was still hitting only .149, but with 4 homers and 10 RBI in 14 games, when he injured his shoulder making a throw from the outfield on April 21, forcing him to miss the next game and prompting fears that he would need to head to the disabled list. He was back in the lineup within a week, although he was confined to playing DH until June. He ended up playing 153 games with a .259 average, but 29 doubles, 40 homers, 108 runs and 110 RBI. He led the AL with 110 walks, was named to the All-Star team again and finished 8th in the MVP vote. He formed a tremendous middle-of-the-order trio with Josh Donaldson and Encarnacion that led the Blue Jays to a first division title since 1993. In the Division Series against the Texas Rangers, he hit a key three-run home run off Sam Dyson in the 7th inning of Game 3, majestically flipping his bat after smashing the ball to oblivion. He hit .273 with 2 homers and 5 RBI in his first postseason series, then added a couple homers and 6 RBI in the ALCS, which Toronto lost in six games to the Kansas City Royals.
Emotions were still running high between the Rangers and Blue Jays when they met a number of times early in the 2016 season, and in the last of those contests on May 15, José was at the center of things. He was plunked by a Matt Bush pitch in the 8th inning, then slid hard into second baseman Rougned Odor in an attempt to break up a double play. He was called out, as was batter Justin Smoak, according to the new Chase Utley rule, but his action triggered a large brawl, which saw Odor punch him in the jaw, and both players, teammate Donaldson and Rangers coach Steve Buechele all get ejected. That season was marred by injuries as he missed five weeks of action in June and July with a foot injury. He returned on July 25, but two weeks later, on August 10, he went back to the DL with a sprained left knee. He ended up playing 116 games, hitting .234 with 22 homers and 69 RBI. He did draw 87 walks, giving him a solid OBP of .366 and an OPS+ of 117. He hit a home run off Chris Tillman of the Orioles in the Wild Card Game, and another off the Rangers' Jake Diekman in Game 1 of the ALCDS, but then only went 3 for 18 against the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. Both he and Encarnacion became free agents after the season, and it looked like neither would return to Toronto, but on January 17, 2017, José signed a one-year deal with the Jays after having rejected a qualifying offer of $17.2 million the previous December.
It was a tough year for José and the Jays. For his part, he set a new team record for most strikeouts in a season. Like most of his teammates, José started the 2017 season in a deep slump. He was hitting a mere .131 on April 21 when he connected for his first homer of the season against former teammate Jesse Chavez. It came at a critical time, with two men on in the 13th inning at Angels Stadium, giving the Jays a 7-4 lead. They needed the extra runs as their bullpen gave back two of these before Joe Biagini saved the 7-6 win. After a terrible month of April, his bat woke up in May, as he hit .319 with 9 homers and 21 RBI, also scoring 23 runs. Not coincidentally, the Jays began to turn things around, moving to one game of the .500 mark by the end of the month. While the Blue Jays managed to get within one game of .500 repeatedly in June, they never passed the threshold and then began to slip further and further away as the season progressed. For his part, Bautista played 157 games but hit just .203, with 23 homers and 65 RBI. He did score 92 runs, as he continued to draw a lot of walks, and generally hit near the top of the batting order.
He was a free agent again at the end of the 2017 season, but this time the Blue Jays declined to make him an offer, figuring the end of the line was getting too near for their comfort. He remained unsigned through the start of the 2018 season, until the Atlanta Braves offered him a minor league deal on April 18. Interestingly enough, the Braves wanted him to play third base and not the outfield, given that top prospect Ronald Acuna was likely to claim a corner outfield spot in Atlanta in short order. Indeed, Acuña made his debut before the end of April, and on May 3, stories emerged that Bautista would join the team as well within a couple of days. He made his return on May 4, going 1 for 4 with a double against the Seattle Mariners, but that promising beginning did not last. By May 18, he was hitting just .143 in 12 games, although he had hit a pair of homers and had 5 RBI. With the Braves in contention for the postseason, that clearly was not enough, and on May 20, he was handed his release. He immediately signed with the New York Mets and was placed on the roster on May 22, hitting a double in his first at-bat for his new team that same day. The Mets were looking at him to play the outfield, with Juan Lagares out for the season and Yoenis Cespedes also injured with no return date set. On July 6, he had a significant highlight with the Mets when he hit a walk-off grand slam to give the team a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Surprisingly, the blast off Chaz Roe was the first walk-off homer of his career. On August 16, he did not start the first game of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies, but after taking over in right field for an injured Brandon Nimmo, he went 3 for 4, hit a grand slam, scored 3 runs and drove in 7 to lead the Mets to a 24-4 rout. The Mets set team records for runs and hits in that game. In 83 games for the Mets, he hit .204, but thanks to 13 doubles and 9 homers, in addition to 51 walks, his OPS+ was actually pretty good at 104. On August 28, he was on the move again, being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for future considerations. The Phillies playoff push died a terrible death as September marched along, but José was a bright spot, batting .244/.404/.467 with 2 home runs in 57 plate appearances.
He became a free agent after the season and went unsigned in 2019. In 2020, he was selected to play for the Dominican republic in the 2020 Americas Olympics Qualifier. While he was expected to play first base for the D.R., he had been working out as a pitcher as well, touching 94 mph on the radar gun and also displaying a very convincing slider. He played for the D.R. at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were held one year later than originally scheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping the team to a Bronze Medal, the best result in the country's history. He had not officially retired at that point, although he was inactive following the tournament. In August 2023, he signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays on the occasion of a ceremony to add his name to the Level of Excellence at the Roger Centre on August 12th.
He was the object of a rare accolade (for baseball players anyway) in 2018 when a Canadian entomologist working for the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, ON named a newly-discovered species of beetles Sicoderus bautistai in his honor. The scientist explained that this type of weevil is native to the Dominican Republic and that he considered that Bautista's iconic bat flip in the 2015 Division Series was one of the most memorable moments in recent Canadian sports history.
Sources include 2001-2006 Baseball Almanacs, unofficial Pirates e-mail list
- 6-time AL All-Star (2010-2015)
- 3-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner: (2010, 2011 & 2014/OF)
- AL Slugging Percentage Leader (2011)
- AL OPS Leader (2011)
- AL Total Bases Leader (2010)
- 2-time AL Home Runs Leader (2010 & 2011)
- 2-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (2011 & 2015)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 8 (2010-2017)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (2010, 2011, 2014 & 2015)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 3 (2010, 2011 & 2015)
- 50-Home Run Seasons: 1 (2010)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (2010, 2011, 2014 & 2015)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 4 (2010, 2011, 2014 & 2015)
- Nathalie Alonso: "Bautista not ready to hang up his cleats: Veteran slugger will play as long as desire and opportunities remain", mlb.com, July 9, 2018. 
- Nick Ashbourne: "Jose Bautista's Hall of Fame case is tough to make despite remarkable career", Yahoo! Sports, November 21, 2023. 
- Michael Clair: "Remembering Jose Bautista's crazy breakout season in 2010", "Cut4", mlb.com, September 29, 2017. 
- Jamal Collier: "Atkins: 'It was clear' Bautista wanted return: GM notes importance of Toronto to slugger as well as what he means to community", mlb.com, January 19, 2017. 
- Matt Ehalt: "Mets sign All-Star slugger Jose Bautista to a one-year deal", USA Today Sports, May 22, 2018. 
- Thomas Harrigan: "Could José Bautista return as two-way player?", mlb.com, March 2, 2020. 
- Michael Hoad: "Jose Bautista signing one-day contract to retire with Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are adding Jose Bautista's name to the Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre on Saturday.", Yahoo! Sports Canada, August 11, 2023. 
- Bob Nightengale: "Jose Bautista, humbled but not hurt, aims for Blue Jays revival at 36", USA Today Sports, March 8, 2017.