Baseballs continue to fall in favor of the Toronto Blue Jays after one of the biggest weeks in recent franchise history, but that hasn’t stopped fans from questioning the batting average of All Star outfielder Jose Bautista, now sitting at .237. We can’t just enjoy a good week, right!? There have been recent games where only Ryan Goins holds a lower average in the starting nine, but I’m here to tell you this number is no cause for concern and should soon begin to climb.
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Bautista’s current average would be his lowest since 2009, the year before he erupted with 54 home runs for the Blue Jays. His .286 mark from last year had fans excited, not to mention his .403 OBP, as Bautista made common use of the opposite field and often opted to take what was given to him. That hasn’t disappeared, though, and while Bautista has rarely been a high-average player, an uncharacteristically low BABIP can take some of the blame here.
His current BABIP sits at .222, well below his career average of .267 and 2014 number of .287. Keep in mind that Bautista enjoyed his greatest season in 2010 with just a .233 BABIP, but of course “balls in play” do not factor in those 54 home runs. For the sake of comparison, Josh Donaldson is enjoying a .310 BABIP this season, Edwin Encarnacion is down at .249 and Troy Tulowitzki is in the stratosphere at .353.
There’s room for that BABIP to grow and perhaps a few more balls will fall, but don’t expect any meteoric climb in the batting average category. Bautista is a career .256 hitter, a number he should still be able to reach within 2015, and that’s just fine. It always has been fine, and will continue to be, especially if Bautista can extend his recent groove at the dish.
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Over his last five games, Bautista is 7-for-21 with two home runs and five RBI. The right fielder was held back by a shoulder injury throughout the heart of the season, and I’ve felt that it impacted him much more than he would let on. Now that Bautista seems to be moving past that, it shows in his stroke. Yesterday’s ground-rule double was a perfect example as Bautista stayed on top of the pitch, following through straight towards the pitching mound as he barrelled it up. That’s the healthy Jose.
Bautista remains on pace to top 100 RBI and flirt with his home run total of 35 from last year. Batting average is one of many, many numbers, and while it’s not as high as we’d prefer, I’m not so sure it matters. Especially with a player who has built a reputation on rising to the moment, I’m excited to see not just if his average climbs, but how high.