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.
On Sunday, Blue Jays closer Ken Giles spoke to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star. Giles said, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston.” Giles won a World Series with the Astros last year, but talked about communication issues with the Astros and compared them unfavorably to the Blue Jays. Giles described the communication as having been “lost” and credited the Jays for staying patient with him.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch responded to Giles’ comments on Monday. Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Hinch said:
I think he’s wrong and I’m disappointed that he would go down that path given how much work and time and energy and communication that our front office, our coaching staff, me, we all went through this with him. And I understand, there was some disappointment in his tenure as an Astro because of the turbulent way things went about. We gave him every opportunity, we communicated with him effectively, we have an incredible culture where every single player will tell you it’s one of the best cultures they’ve had, one of the best communication envrionments they’ve had. They all know their roles. They all know their situations. To have one person out of all the guys in our clubhouse come out and claim otherwise is flat wrong.
While Giles certainly could be embellishing or deliberately misconstruing his time there, Hinch’s rebuttal doesn’t actually disqualify anything Giles said. Giles certainly could have had a negative experience in Houston even if everyone else was enjoying the “incredible culture” and “one of the best communication environments.”
Given how the Astros — including Hinch — responded to criticism about their acquiring an accused domestic abuser, they’re not in the best position to boast about an “incredible culture” anyway.
At any rate, this is a he-said, he-said situation. If anything more comes of it, it will be Giles further torching a bridge.