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.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.