Every baseball fan on the planet probably knows by now that Albert Pujols says he will test the free-agent market after the 2011 season if a new contract is not signed by the start of spring training.
Jose Bautista has also imposed a deadline for a new contract. Bautista says he will not negotiate after his arbitration hearing on Monday. Bautista's self imposed deadline is probably not on the radar of most fans outside of Toronto.
He is asking for $10.5 million for 2011 and the Blue Jays have countered with $7.6 million. If he can come close to duplicating his 2010 season, you could add the figures together and he would be a bargain at $18.1 million.
A long-term deal is rumored to be in the works, but with the deadline looming, nothing appears imminent.
Bautista is an amazing story. He toiled for six years, putting up numbers that would only be noticed by hardcore fantasy baseball owners.
Then seemingly out of nowhere, he hits 54 home runs in 2010. This from a guy whose previous career high was 16 in 2006. Even more amazing was his career total of 59 in 1754 at bats. He nearly doubled it in 569 at bats in 2010.
There is no rational explanation of how a 29-year-old player with 59 career homers can nearly double that total in one season. The closest example I can think of is Brady Anderson hitting 50 in 1996. The only reason I remember this fact is that I drafted Anderson in a fantasy league that season, hoping he would steal 20 bases.
After his 50 homer explosion, Anderson never reached even 25 homers again, hitting only 88 more in his career in 2,649 at bats over six seasons.
I am sure many people have studied and projected statistics for Bautista for 2011. I honestly don't see how anyone can project Bautista for 2011 with any degree of confidence.
My gut feeling based on his age and career numbers is there no way he will come close to ever matching his production of 2010.
Maybe it's just the memories of Brady Anderson in my mind?
Maybe it's that Vernon Wells was jettisoned to the Angels, thus costing Bautista valuable protection in the lineup?
Maybe it's hard to fathom a player that never showed signs of greatness exploding for 54 homers at age 29?
Or maybe it's the fact that I cannot think of any other example of a player having such huge single season spike so far along in his career backing it up the following season?
I know I for one will be watching Bautista during the 2011 season with great anticipation.
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