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Sunday April 24, 2011 4:10 am

Jose Bautista has more than home run swing




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Editorial, MLB,

Jose BautistaJose Bautista, the reigning Major League home run king, temporarily took the lead in long balls on Saturday afternoon; blasting two line drives over the left field wall off of Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price to bring his total to seven. Neither were majestic shots Toronto Blue Jays fans have come to love in their slugging right fielder, nor were they enough to get a win for the team, but as far as personal accomplishments go, Bautista is certainly making the most of his prime baseball years.

Bautista is tied with Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki and Albert Pujols for the Major League lead in home runs. However, Bautista has done it in no less than 11 fewer at-bats compared to the next lowest. He also has more walks than any of the others. His on-base percentage is also a whopping .506. Braun is close at .489, but Tulowitzki (.438) and Pujols (.309) are much farther back. Pitchers are trying to pitch around Bautista, and he’s still making them pay.

In fact, Bautista was a single shy of hitting for the cycle on Friday night, collecting the other three and two walks. He’s reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances now. The only thing that truly kept him from finishing higher than fourth in AL MVP voting last season was his weak .260 batting average (and maybe the team he plays for). Right now he’s hitting .371, which is seventh among players with at least 30 at bats. This guy is doing something right, and pitchers can’t seem to adjust.

The Blue Jays have played 20 games, but Bautista was only present for 17. He was given three days off to return to the Dominican for the birth of his first daughter. Depending how you look at it, he’s on pace for either 57 or 67 home runs this season. Many think his 54 home runs from last year was a fluke and there’s no way he could repeat, but three weeks into the season, he’s looking pretty good.

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