Via Mark Simon today -
The player the Yankees will have to be careful with is the most prolific home run hitter in the majors this season, Jose Bautista, who has six home runs in 15 games against the Yankees this season, including four in six games at Rogers Centre.
Bautista is enjoying an impressive Yankees-killer type of season, with a .507 on-base percentage and those six home runs. In the last 55 years, eight other players have put up a .500 on-base percentage AND hit six home runs against the Yankees in a season, and the names are impressive –- Ted Wiliams (1957 Red Sox), Jim Rice (1983 Red Sox) Albert Belle (1994 Indians), and Manny Ramirez (2006 Red Sox) among them.
Bautista’s on-base percentage is aided by 18 walks, the most by a player against the Yankees since Tony Phillips had 18 for the 1993 Tigers. Bautista’s next walk will give him the most by anyone versus the Yankees since Eddie “The Walking Man” Yost had 24 for the 1960 Tigers.
Here’s the skinny on Bautista via Jeff Blair -
The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted Bautista in the 20th round of the 2000 draft out of Chipola junior college in Florida, signing him to a reported $600,000 bonus. Bautista was taken in the December, 2003 Rule-5 draft by the Baltimore Orioles and he broke camp with them before the Tampa Bay Rays claimed him on waivers on June 3, 2004 – then traded him to the Kansas City Royals on June 28, who in turn traded him two days later to the New York Mets. The Mets promptly shipped him, Matt Peterson and Ty Wigginton (now with the Orioles) back to the Pirates for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger. During that span, he gathered fewer than 100 at-bats.
“He had a lot of tools – which is generally why you get a Rule 5 guy in the first place,” said Terry Crowley, then and now the Orioles hitting coach. “He was a good fastball hitter back then, but as good a fastball hitter as you want to be, you still have to learn to at least be respectable on the breaking ball, or at least learn how to take it for a walk.
“Maturity has been kind to Jose in that way,” he said.
The Blue Jays picked him up in a late-August trade two years ago and in Toronto, he’s found stability for the first time in his career. What’s more, in Cito Gaston he has a manager who gives power hitters his blessing to swing for the fences without fear of striking out.
Last year, then-hitting coach Gene Tenace, Gaston and first base coach/current hitting instructor Dwayne Murphy suggested Bautista change his approach at the plate. Repositioning his hands to initiate his swing earlier has, Bautista said, shaved 1.0 to 1.5 seconds off the time he starts and finishes his swing. The results came immediately, as he began hitting for more power last September.
“It’s not like I’ve changed my swing,” Bautista said in Baltimore, before tying Bell’s mark on Wednesday. “But I get started now when the pitcher takes the ball out of his glove. Before, I was waiting until he started his arm motion. That time difference allows me to pick up the ball better, and from there it’s just kind of avalanched.”
He’s doing some crazy things this year -
Jose Bautista hit another one out of the Rogers Centre Saturday. This one won’t count in the statistics but it still left teammates and fans in awe. In the sixth, Orioles pitcher Jeremy Guthrie tried to come inside and Bautista turned on the ball so quickly that he hit it foul high over the Jays’ dugout, up over the fifth deck and, it was believed, up over the concrete track the roof rolls on, and out of the ball park.
Nobody could recall anyone ever having hit a ball out of the Rogers Centre. “I couldn’t do that even if I tried … with my nine-iron,” Lyle Overbay said.
So, what are you thoughts on what Jose Bautista has done this season?
Me? Any time I see someone start to play like it’s man against boys, and it’s a new thing for them, it raises questions for me. Yeah, I know about testing…but, there’s ways around that and they don’t test for everything.