What fluke? Jose Bautista hitting .364 with AL-high 8 homers

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Last night Jose Bautista homered for the fourth time in four games, giving him a league-leading eight homers on the season despite missing three games due to the birth of his daughter.

Bautista, whose monster 2010 was deemed a fluke by nearly everyone because it came at age 29 and after six totally unremarkable seasons, is now leading the league in batting average (.364), on-base percentage (.517), slugging percentage (.788), and OPS (1.305) in addition to homers and walks.

When the Blue Jays signed Bautista to a five-year, $65 million contract extension in February many people reacted as if they’d made a terrible mistake, assuming that Bautista failing to duplicate his 2010 breakout would leave them regretting the deal. I tried to point out at the time that in reality he certainly doesn’t have to hit 50 homers with a 1.000 OPS to be worth $13 million per season, although right now that seems like kind of a moot point.

Dating back to September 1 of 2009 he’s hitting .270 with 72 homers, 132 walks, and a 1.016 OPS in 208 games, so anyone calling it a “fluke season” should probably at least do Bautista the favor of calling it a “fluke season-and-a-half” at this point. Or maybe just ditch the “fluke” part altogether until he stops leading the league in everything.

Check out Minute Maid Park without Tal’s Hill

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During the offseason, the Astros finally got rid of Tal’s Hill in center field. It was a throwback to older stadiums, some of which had uneven topography — Crosley Field, namely. As unique as it was in the age of cookie cutter sports stadiums, most of us were holding our collective breaths hoping no one ruptured an Achilles or suffered another brutal injury trying to navigate the hill while attempting to catch a fly ball.

We saw what it looked like during reconstruction:

And now, via Julia Morales of ROOT Sports, we see what it looks like after all the work has been done:

The Astros are allowing fans with Lexus Field Club tickets to stand on the new warning track to watch batting practice and shag fly balls as well, Morales notes. Lexus Field Club is where Tal’s Hill used to be.

Good riddance, Tal’s Hill.

Jhoulys Chacin will start Opening Day for the Padres

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Jhoulys Chacin will start on Opening Day, April 3 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will be Chacin’s second Opening Day start, the other coming in 2013 with the Rockies against the Brewers. He’ll be the fifth different Padres pitcher in as many years to start on Opening Day.

Chacin, 29, inked a one-year, $1.75 million contract with the Padres in December. The right-hander spent the 2016 season with the Braves and Angels, compiling an aggregate 4.81 ERA with a 119/55 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.

Lin notes that Chacin will be followed in the rotation by Clayton Richard and Jered Weaver. It will be an interesting rotation, to say the least, as it will arguably be the worst in baseball.