I write a lot of these offseason posts ahead of time. Stockpile ’em then roll them out slowly. Here’s what I wrote back in November when I originally wrote this post, “Jose Bautista is overrated. Hey, look at me shooting fish in a barrel! Maybe next I’ll tell you the sky’s blue or water is wet or Al Gore is a robot. Jose Bautista hit 12 homers in the month of May in 94 at-bats. In 336 at-bats in 2009, he hit 13 homers. *cough* Juicer! *cough* I’m sorry, but dubya tee eff? Did he sleep with Brady Anderson’s sideburns in the offseason last year and they rubbed off some magical powers? He went from a teen homer hitter to a 50+ homer hitter. That, my friend, is insane. Even Brady Anderson hit 21 homers before hitting 50. Want more insane? Bautista only hit one of 54 homers to the opposite field. It’s like he was playing in a snow globe and every time he hit the ball the proverbial little kid with pimples would turn Rogers Centre on its side. Billy, stop turning Rogers Centre and do your homework!” And that’s future me quoting past me! Since I wrote that, people have been coming out of the woodwork to say Bautista is not overrated. Okay, so let’s look at some numbers.
Bautista’s HR/FB% jumped nearly ten points from 2009 to 2010. From 2009 to 2008, Raul Ibanez’s HR/FB% jumped like that when he went from 23 homers to 34 homers. Then in 2010 he hit 16 homers. Joe Mauer’s HR/FB% jumped from 2008 to 2009 when he went from 9 homers to 28. Then he reverted to 9 homers again in 2010. Let’s look at Ryan Ludwick from 2008 when he hit 37 homers. His HR/FB% jumped from 13% to 19.9% from 2007 to 2008. In 2009 and 2010, it reverted to 11.8% and 10.1% and his homers came back to earth. Plateau, weird spike, plateau. It’s pretty simple.
To put Bautista’s homers per ABs into historical context. He had a home run every 10.5 ABs. That would be the all-time best in the history of the game. For a single season, it ranks 33rd, between Bonds and a tie of Ruth and Aaron. Oh, okay. Bautista’s name doesn’t look out of place there. Bautista’s 2010 was an outlier, Gladwell. And Bautista’s 2011 is going to make his 2010 look even odder by comparison.