AL home run leader Jose Bautista could pull off a first

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In major league baseball’s long history, no player with at least 100 plate appearances has ever managed to hit under .260 and slug at least .600. Jose Bautista, though, has a chance to do it this year.
With 125 games under his belt, Bautista is batting .258/.374/.597 with 40 homers and 95 RBI. Except for a brief stretch at the beginning of this month, his average has been under .260 all season. His slugging percentage, though, has most frequently been in the mid- to high-.500s. Only these last few weeks has it really seemed likely that he could come in at .600.
Again, no player has ever managed such a feat. Barry Bonds came closest, hitting .262 and slugging .617 over the course of 102 games in 1999. Roger Maris hit .269 and slugged .620 during his 61-homer campaign in 1961. Matt Williams, who appeared to be making a run at Maris in 1994, hit .267 and slugged .607 in 112 games in that strike-shortened season.
Those are the only three players to hit less than .270 and slug over .600 in a season, and Bonds didn’t even quality for the batting title when he did it. It’s just really tough to slug .600. Adam Dunn would seem to be a candidate, but his career-high for slugging percentage was .569. Ryan Howard hit .313 the lone year of his career in which he slugged .600. Mark Reynolds hit .260 with 44 homers last year, yet he was still far short of .600, coming in at .543.
So, Bautista is still a long shot. But that he’s this close after 125 games is already pretty remarkable.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves