Over the course of the last two seasons, September has been a painful memory for Jose Bautista. That’s because for the past two seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays right fielder has not played a single game in the month of September, sitting on the sidelines with wrist (2012) and hip (2013) injuries while the Blue Jays faded into oblivion.
That hasn’t been the case in 2014, Bautista is busy making up for lost time.
Call to the Pen
Over the course of his career, Bautista has shown a propensity for tiring down the stretch, having put up a .227/.330/.463 slash line during the months of September and October. Perhaps that output was impacted by the Blue Jays place in the standings over the past several seasons or perhaps it is vice-versa, but regardless, it is hard to argue with his struggles in the season’s final month.
With the Blue Jays just 4.5 games out of a Wild Card spot, it’s funny what a sniff of the postseason can do to a man.
Bautista has completely turned it around in eight September games in 2014. The man has lived up to the moniker “Joey Bats”, putting the team on his shoulders with an impressive .343/.378/.657 batting line with 3 home runs and 13 RBI. That performance has Bautista floating a wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) of 189, his highest of since putting up a 197 mark in March and April.
Basically speaking, the man is dialed in, a fact that he conveyed to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
"“I’m just not missing my pitch when I get it as often as I was before. I don’t think this is anything special that I haven’t done at some point this season or in the past, it’s just that I’m connecting with runners on and they’re bigger hits because I am driving in runs.” – Jose Bautista (h/t Gregor Chisholm)"
The rest of the team has responded to that effort as well, with the Blue Jays bats coming to life in September, with 11 team home runs and 47 runs scored already. Considering the team only put up 18 home runs and 89 runs scored in the entire month of August, it is easy to see the improvement in the bats of Edwin Encarnacion, Dioner Navarro, and others.
Oh, and the Blue Jays are 6-2 during this stretch of offensive prowess.
A 4.5 game deficit may not be an ideal situation with only 18 games remaining on the season. However, with play like this from Bautista and the Blue Jays, Toronto is at least doing what it can to control its own fate and hope for those ahead of them to implode.
For Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays, that has been something that was badly missed during this time in years past.