Don’t let the low batting average fool you: Jose Bautista is still a monster

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Jose Bautista’s batting average has hovered around .200 all season, but don’t let that trick you into thinking he’s turned back into a pumpkin after a pair of MVP-caliber years.

Bautista smacked his 15th homer last night, which puts him on pace for 43 on the season after going deep 43 times last year and 54 times in 2010. He’s also on pace to draw more than 90 walks for the third straight year, has a nearly even strikeout-to-walk ratio at 40-to-32, and ranks fourth among AL hitters in RBIs.

In other words he’s every bit the same homer-hitting, walk-drawing monster he’s been for the past two seasons, except missing 50 points of batting average. And even that’s changing, as Bautista has gone 27-for-93 (.290) in his last 25 games to raise his batting average from .177 to .228 in less than a month.

And that should continue to rise as his luck events out, because Bautista’s batting average on balls in play is currently the lowest in the entire league at .209, which is both unsustainably awful and 65 points below his career norms. I’ll be shocked if he’s not back among the AL’s top 10 in all of homers, RBIs, runs, slugging percentage, and OPS by the All-Star break.

Report: Pirates sign Felipe Rivero to four-year contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.

Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.

Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.

Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”