Jose Bautista 2nd Best RF in MLB Right Now?
The MLB Network has a “statistical analysis” machine called “The Shredder” that uses pure stats to determine the top 10 players at each position. The show consists of analyzing The Shredder’s list as well as analysis from two real-life human beings, Brian Kenny, and a guest analyst. (h/t to Jason Rollison of rumbunter.com)
The following installment looks at the Top First basemen in Major League Baseball. According to The Shredder, Toronto Blue Jays’ RF, Jose Bautista is the 2nd best in all of baseball.
According to Kenny, Bautista is the only player with 100 or more HR in the last 4 seasons who has more walks than strike outs. In fact, since 2010, Bautista is 1st in HR (187), 2nd in walks (464), 5th in OBP (.393), 2nd in SLG (.559), 4th in wRC+ (158).
Obviously, the big draw for Jose Bautista is his offensive abilities. His HR power has been well documented. It is the one thing that gets him noticed outside of the country of Canada, which can be difficult for MLB players to do playing north of the border. But, we should not overlook the other things that he does so well.
Last season, he collected 104 walks, which was good for 2nd in baseball. Actually, he collected more walks than RBI. He shows a rare patience at the plate that you don’t often see from a typical slugger. Speaking of typical sluggers, you expect to see the strikeouts pile up as they swing long and hard to jack that ball out of the park. Not Bautista. Last season, he whiffed just 96 times, better than 124 other players in MLB. According to Fangraphs.com, his swinging strike percentage was just 7%, which is below the 9.5% average for the league.
What doesn’t get enough conversation is Bautista’s growth as a situational hitter. Over the last 2 years, (evidenced below) Bautista has greatly improved his ability to hit the ball the other way. As word got out that he is a severe pull hitter, teams would employ the shift, pitch him inside, etc. So, being a good hitter, he took advantage of situations and used the hole created by the shift and shoot the ball to right field. Good hitters adjust. Bautista is doing just that.
Comparison of Jose Bautista hits form 2012-2014
Defensively, Bautista doesn’t get as much credit as he should. In 2013, he put up a UZR/150 of 7.6 and in 2014 it was 5.7. He was worth 4 DRS saved in 2013 and -3 in 2014. While this may or may not impress, his defensive value comes in the form of his arm. His laser from RF has nailed a good many runners and halted many more. In fact, in 2014, his ARM was valued at 5.5 runs above average. That means his arm saved 5.5 runs PER GAME more than the average!
And, of course:
Undoubtedly, Bautista’s value comes form his bat, even though he’s no slouch in the field. In 2014, his fielding was worth 1.9 runs above average. His offense, though? His batting value (adjusted for ballpark) was 43.5 runs above average!
It would be impossible to overstate the value that Jose Bautista brings to his club. The fact that he does not finish higher in MVP voting, while a discussion for another day, seems silly. On a final note, Fangraphs.com says using his WAR last season of 6.3, the Blue Jays got a steal out of his $14M salary. They peg his performance last season at a value of $34.6M!