If anyone had predicted in spring training that Jose Bautista would be leading the major leagues in home runs on September 1 with 43 they would have been fitted with a straitjacket on the spot.
However Bautista has done exactly that. He has hit 27 more home runs than his previous personal high of 16 he hit for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006. His 103 runs batted in this season are 40 more than his personal high of 63 for the Pirates in 2007.
Bautista hit a home run every 25.8 at bats in 2009 but has hit one every 10.7 at bats in 2010. He had 29 extra base hits all last season but has 75 in 2010 with about 30 games left in the 2010 season.
Who would have thought that Bautista would have eight more home runs than Albert Pujols, 19 more than Ryan Howard and 22 more than Alex Rodriguez this season? Who would have predicted that he would be one of two major league players with over 100 runs batted in going into the last full month of the season?
His slugging percentage has increased by 215 points after a .408 slugging percentage in 2009 to a .623 slugging percentage in 2010. He has slugged over .700 in three different months in 2010.
On this date a year ago Bautista had 40 less home runs with three home runs at the end of August in 2009.
The only major leaguers with a higher slugging percentage this season are Miguel Cabrera slugging at a .643 clip and Josh Hamilton slugging .637.
Since the All Star game break Bautista who is hitting .266 this season has hit .323, slugged .761 and has an OBP of .422 so he has shown no signs of slowing down. He has hit 53 home runs since September 5 of 2009.
Someone has hit 50 home runs only 41 times in the history of major league baseball and Bautista needs only seven more to hit 50 for the 42nd time.
If he does hit 50 will Bautista be a one season wonder like Hack Wilson who hit 56 in 1930 but only hit 13 in 1931 and never hit more than 31 in a season before or after his 56 home run season?
Or Brady Anderson who hit 50 in 1996 but hit only 18 in 1997 and never hit more than 24 in any other season? Anderson only hit more than 20 home runs three times in his fifteen year career.
Luis Gonzalez is another example of a one season wonder when he hit the eleventh most home runs ever hit in a season with 57 in 2001. He still finished 16 home runs behind the major league leader Barry Bonds who hit 73 that season.
He never hit more than 31 home runs in any other season of his 19 year career.
It will be interesting to watch Bautista in 2011 and see if he comes close to numbers of this year. One thing for certain is that Bautista should receive a hefty raise from whatever team he plays for in 2011. He only is earning $2.4 million this season.
His teammate Vernon Wells is earning $15.6 million this season but is 20 home runs and 34 runs batted in behind Bautista currently.
In these days of steroids use it does seem suspicious that a player like Bautista who had only three home runs a year ago has hit 53 home runs since then but for now he deserves credit for having a great season.
Around the Diamond
Manny Ramirez makes his debut for the Chicago White Sox against Carlos Carrasco 0-4, 8.87 ERA of the Indians who will be making his 2010 debut this afternoon against the White Sox….Josh Hamilton who is hitting .361 to lead the majors in batting is hitting .417 in his last ten games.
Vladimir Guerrero needs one RBI to become the third major leaguer this season to reach the century mark and the tenth time for him to accomplish the feat….Barry Zito was 6-2 at the end of May but has a 2-8 record since then. He hasn’t won since July 16 and has recorded only two wins since May 16.
Ichiro Suzuki needs 31 hits in 30 games to post his tenth consecutive 200 hit season….15 of the major league teams are at least 10 games out of first place in their division which is not a good sign for attendance in those cities.
The Orioles and Pirates have already been eliminated from the 2010 pennant race….The Yankees, Orioles and Braves have the longest current winning streaks with streaks of four wins….The Astros have the best record in the last ten games with a 8-2 record and have moved to only one game behind the third place Brewers in the NL Central.
The Rays are only a game behind the Yankees in the AL East but are seven games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL wild card race so are likely to be in the playoffs this year one way or the other. The Cardinals are seven games behind the Reds but are only four games behind the Phillies in the NL wild card race but are still trailing the Giants who are a game-and-a-half behind the Phillies.
Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez share the major league strikeout lead with both hurlers having posted 200 strikeouts exactly….Clay Buchholz with a 2.21 ERA is the AL ERA leader while Tim Hudson has posted a 2.24 ERA to lead the NL.
Ubaldo Jimenez looked like a lock for 25 wins earlier this season but is 3-4 in his last ten starts. He was 2-1 with 6.04 ERA in July but actually pitched better in August but was 1-3 for the month with a 2.83 ERA. His last six starts have been quality starts.
12 AL players are hitting .300 currently but Kevin Youkilis who is out for the season will not have enough at bats to qualify by the end of the season….Nine NL players are hitting .300 this season with the Cubs and Cardinals being the only teams to have two players hitting .300 leaving five players among the other 14 NL teams to be hitting .300.
Chris Young needs eight home runs and four stolen bases to join the 30-30 club. Carlos Gonzalez needs one home run and ten stolen bases to join the elite club. No other player at this time has a realistic chance of joining the club.
Most major league starters will have six or seven starts before the end of the season. With that in mind it looks like C.C. Sabathia with 18 wins, Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Wainwright with 17 wins each and Roy Halladay and Phillip Hughes with 16 wins each have the best chance of winning 20 games in 2010.
Only Cliff Lee, Brandon Webb who both won 22 games in 2008 and Josh Beckett who won 20 in 2007 have won 20 games since 2005.