TORONTO– No one exploded onto the scene faster than Jose Bautista this past season, well… almost anyone. A career .235 hitter, he managed to hit an impressive .260 while slugging a Major League leading 54 homeruns over the course of last season. This may seem like an aberration but after looking at the numbers, you can see that he has ample room to improve.
The most notable statistic is Bautista’s BABIP (batting average balls in play). BABIP is a great indicator of how ‘lucky’ a player has been as of late. If a player has an average less than .300, chances are his luck will rebound and return to the historical average. Adversely, if a player has an average greater than .300, chances are his numbers will deviate back down to earth. Although many people believe Jose Bautista cannot repeat last year’s numbers, Bautista put up a BABIP of .233 this past season—an astonishing 60 points under the league average.
What does this mean exactly? Jose Bautista was UNLUCKY last season, his BABIP projects that his numbers will actually IMPROVE.
What separates Jose Bautista from the rest of the league is his ability to walk. In 2010, Jose Bautista ranked 9th in P/PA (Pitchers per Plate Appearance) and ranked 4th in total walks behind only Prince Fielder, Derek Barton, and Albert Pujols.
Jose Bautista also has the luxury of being surrounded by an excellent lineup. Newly acquired Rajai Davis along with the same offensive forces of Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill will not give opposing pitchers the ability to pitch around him. Bautista will always be in position to produce, whether that be driving in runs or crossing home plate.
After considering all of the key points above, there is no reason Bautista will not be able to replicate last year’s numbers.
Jose Bautista: 557 AB, 102 BB, 114 R, RBI130, 34 HR, 15 SB, .280 AVG, .402 OBP
It would be unrealistic to expect Jose Bautista to hit 54 homeruns next season. Prior to last year, the most homeruns he hit in a single season was 16. However, expect a rise in his BA and OBP as his BABIP nears the historical average. As a result, look for Bautista to add more runs and stolen bases to his fantasy repertoire.
When it’s all said and done, Bautista, come Spring 2011, will be an offensive fantasy juggernaut.