Blue Jays' Jose Bautista hits home runs 39 and 40

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the year on Monday in a 3-2 victory over the Yankees.  It was his sixth multi-homer game of the season and gave him a seven-homer lead on Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols for most in the majors.

Bautista is the first American League player to top 40 home runs since Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Pena did it back in 2007 and he has been contributing beyond the long-ball in Toronto for a few months now. 

His on-base percentage on June 19 was .350.  It’s now .370.

His slugging percentage on June 19 was .526.  It’s now .600.

As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes, Barry Bonds had 55 round-trippers at this time in 2001 and Mark McGwire had 51 in 1999.  But home run numbers are relative, or at least they should be relative.  That was the steroid era.  This, hopefully, is not.

Either way, Bautista’s 40 home runs don’t feel any less special.  He’s having a monstrous season for the Blue Jays and it’s largely come out of nowhere.  The 29-year-old’s previous career high in homers was 16 (in 2006) and his previous high in RBI was 63 (in 2007).  Now Bautista has 95 runs batted in and a .970 OPS.

Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title

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The Marlins announced on Sunday that outfielder Giancarlo Stanton will defend his Home Run Derby title when the city of Miami host’s the All-Star Game festivities next month.

Stanton, 27, defeated Todd Frazier in the finals of last year’s Home Run Derby at Petco Park, hitting 20 home runs to Frazier’s 13. Stanton hit a total of 61 home runs in the Derby. This will be the third Home Run Derby in which Stanton has participated.

Stanton also went 1-for-3 with a solo home run to help the Marlins defeat the Cubs 4-2 on Sunday. He’s now batting .274/.357/.551 with 20 home runs and 49 RBI in 311 plate appearances.

Aaron Hicks to go on the disabled list with an oblique injury

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks left Sunday’s game against the Rangers after four innings due to soreness in his right oblique. After the game, Hicks said he expects to go on the 10-day disabled list and miss the next three to four weeks, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports.

Hicks was 1-for-2 with a single before departing on Sunday. He entered the game batting .288/.397/.515 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI in 198 plate appearances. It is by far the best season of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury is on his way back from a concussion, so the Yankees will only have to bridge the gap in center field for a week or two. Mason Williams could draw some starts in center field in the meantime.