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.

Masahiro Tanaka to throw off a mound this weekend

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Earlier this month Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka strained both of his hamstrings while running the bases in an interleague game against the Mets and was sent to the 10-day DL. Today it was announced that the beginning of the end of most DL stints for pitchers — throwing off of a mound — is in Tanaka’s immediate future.

Tanaka is scheduled to throw off a mound Sunday, which will be his first real (well, fake real) pitching action since the June 9th injury. Assuming the session goes well, Tanaka is expected to return to the Yankees’ starting rotation sometime in early-to-mid July. With the All-Star break coming the week of July 16, it would not be hard to imagine the Yankees giving him a few extra days to get right.

Tanaka is 7-2 with a 4.58 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 73/19 in 72.2 innings on the season.