Have We Seen the Last of Jose Bautista as a Blue Jay?
The Toronto Star reported on Wednesday that Jose Bautista has been shut down for the remainder of the 2013 season with a bone bruise in the neck of his left femur. That, of course, is the right play in this situation. The Toronto Blue Jays are miles out of playoff contention and there is no reason to risk any further injury to Bautista.
The two-time American League home run champion has had two subpar years in a row when compared to 2010-11.
Bautista, who was a relative unknown when former general manager J.P. Ricciardi acquired him in 2008 from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Robinzon Diaz, quickly became one of the best home run hitters in the game after going deep 54 times in 2010. Nothing could stop "Joey Bats".
He signed a five-year contract extension worth $64 million before the 2011 season and proceeded to lead the league in home runs with 43 and a Ruthian-like 1.056 OPS.
Unfortunately for the Jays and their fans, injuries have riddled Bautista over the past two seasons, limiting him to what he can do on the field and at the plate.
Aside from his injuries, opposing pitchers are also taking a different approach when they're facing him. This season, Bautista saw saw fewer fastballs than ever before (30.4 percent), according to Fan Graphs and a higher amount of breaking pitches. With two strikes, Bautista will see a curveball 35 percent of the time, according to Brooks Baseball, an increase of three percent from the year before.
That may not seem like a lot, but had 48 strikeouts this year compared to 28 last year. He's also been in a two-strike count 74 more times than last year. His power numbers are almost identical, but the underlying factor remains that pitchers have adapted to him and he may not see another 50-home run season again.
The Jays' season has not been what anyone expected with rumors flying around about whether the team will remain intact for next season. A slow start out of gate next year could warrant changes, though changes in the offseason wouldn't surprise anyone.
Bautista will be 34 next season, and players don't necessarily get better with age. A select few defy the odds, but the law of averages will always win out.
Will Bautista be a Jay next year? That's quite possible, but it's also quite possible that he won't.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos does have a habit of pulling off unprecedented trades.
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