After a record-breaking first half, many would expect Jose Bautista to cool off but this is a guy who defies expectations. Since he got hot in September 2009, he's jacked 95 home runs in 276 games.
Already with 31 in 2011, Bautista needs to match his first-half totals to break Roger Maris' American League single-season home run record. Maris famously hit 61 home runs in 1961, however Joey Bats is looking to top that in 2011.
Last season in 73 second-half games, Bautista hit 30 home runs. The Blue Jays 2011 second half is shorter by three games (70) but Bautista is a hotter hitter than he was a year ago. Not only has he hit more first half home runs (31 in 2011 to 24 in 2010) despite playing less (84 games to 88 games) and walking more (74 BB to BB 54), but his batting average is up over 100 points (.237 to .334).
That, along with a healthy and productive Adam Lind (16 HR and 52 RBI in 67 first half games) providing protection behind him, should be more than enough to cover the three game difference and then some.
Bautista's current ankle injury doesn't appear serious and shouldn't stand in the way of him breaking the record. He missed a three-game set over the weekend against the Yankees but is not expected to miss any more time. After a day off Monday, the Jays start a three game series against the Seattle Mariners.