Jose Bautista is the most dangerous hitter in baseball, and it's not even close. The man has no rival.
That's an incredible statement to be able to make in 2011, considering the Toronto Blue Jays slugger hit .235 with 13 home runs just two seasons ago. There has never been a player quite like him in the history of the game, but does that mean we'll never see another Jose Bautista?
I set out to find who could be the next player to have a Bautista-like meteoric raise later in his career. By using Bautista's career numbers entering last season as a starting point, I came up with a handful of guys who compare to Joey Bats before the start of last season.
Entering his breakout 2010 campaign, Bautista was 29 years old, had just over 2,000 plate appearances in the Major Leagues and had never hit more than 24 home runs in any season at any level (he hit 24 total in 2005 between the majors, Triple-A and Double-A).
Using those numbers, I was able to weed out most of the guys who immediately came to mind as potential post-hype sleepers. For instance, Travis Snider is too young (23), Brandon Wood already has a track record as a minor league power hitter (he hit 43 bombs in 2005) and Nolan Reimold doesn't have a long enough MLB track record (about 500 plate appearances).
What started as an attempt to find the next Jose Bautista ended as an example of just how amazing it is that Bautista has evolved into the most feared hitter in the game. After doing the research, I'm convinced there won't be another like him. Here are the players I found who've had similar careers to Bautista prior to 2010...