After destroying the Twins over the weekend Jose Bautista has an MLB-high 16 homers this season and also leads the AL in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, runs, total bases, and walks.
People keep expecting him to turn back into a pumpkin and Bautista keeps performing even better.
In fact, dating back to May of last season Bautista now has 64 home runs in his last 162 games, hitting .291 with a .400 on-base percentage, .700 slugging percentage, 119 walks, and 131 RBIs in one full season’s worth of playing time.
Here are the MLB leaders during that same span:
HOMERS RBIs SLUGGING
JOSE BAUTISTA 64 JOSE BAUTISTA 131 JOSE BAUTISTA .700
Albert Pujols 42 Alex Rodriguez 129 Josh Hamilton .646
Mark Teixeira 40 Miguel Cabrera 123 Joey Votto .603
Miguel Cabrera 38 Ryan Howard 123 Miguel Cabrera .596
Prince Fielder 38 Joey Votto 120 Troy Tulowitzki .590
To lead baseball in homers with 64 when no one else has more than 42 is amazing enough, but to do that while also leading baseball in walks is remarkable. Bautista has homered once every 8.9 at-bats, which would rank ninth all time on the single-season leaderboard behind a bunch of years from Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Mark McGwire.
And his dominance actually stretches further back than 162 games. Dating back to September 5, 2009 he’s hit .278/.398/.659 with 80 homers in 220 games. Albert Pujols ranks second with 53 homers during that time.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉