Jose Bautista was given a hero’s send-off by the crowd in his final home game in Toronto last week. His tenure with the Blue Jays is over, but the veteran does plan to play in 2018, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports.
Bautista, who turns 37 years old this month, had his worst season since becoming a regular in 2006. He hit .203/.308/.366 with 23 home runs, 65 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 686 plate appearances. His peripheral stats indicate a player who was legitimately declining, not just getting unlucky. Compared to 2016, he drew 4.6 percent fewer walks, struck out nearly five percent more often, pulled pitches nearly eight percent less often, made hard contact nearly nine percent less often, and chased pitches out of the strike zone five percent more often.
Given his age, eroding offense, and similarly eroding defensive capabilities, Bautista may have a hard time building a market this offseason. He may have to settle for a one-year, incentive-laden contract or even a minor league deal so teams are limiting their risk in signing him.
With his team trailing 8-3 to begin the bottom of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Astros, Indians third baseman José Ramirez eventually won a 17-pitch at-bat against closer Ken Giles, ripping a double off of the wall in right field. The Indians would go on to score five runs on seven hits to tie the game against Giles and Hector Rondon. Ramirez almost won the game in his second at-bat of the ninth inning, but first basebamn Yuli Gurriel made a terrific diving catch on a line drive otherwise headed for the right field corner.
Giants first baseman Brandon Belt set a new modern record for the longest at-bat last month, seeing 21 pitches against the Angels’ Jaime Barria. The Astros’ Ricky Gutierrez sfaw 20 pitches from the Indians’ Bartolo Colon on June 26, 1998, which was the previous record. Kevin Bass saw 19 pitches from the Phillies’ Steve Bedrosian in 1988. There have also been five 18-pitch at-bats from Brian Downing, Bip Roberts, Alex Cora, Adam Kennedy, and Marcus Semien.
Sunday’s game wound up going 14 innings. The Astros pulled ahead 9-8 in the top of the 13th on a solo home run from Evan Gattis. However, the Indians’ Yonder Alonso responded with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 13th to re-knot the game at 9-9. Greg Allen then lifted a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 14th to give the Indians a 10-9 win.
After Sunday’s effort, Ramirez is batting .292/.389/.605 with 15 home runs, 37 RBI, 34 runs scored, and seven stolen bases. According to FanGraphs, his 3.5 Wins Above Replacement ranks third across baseball behind Mike Trout (4.4) and Mookie Betts (4.1). They’re the only players at three wins or above.