Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays and Jose Bautista benefit from recent surge

Sep 21, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) flips his bat after hitting a solo-home run to tie the game against the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino (3) is at right. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 21, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) flips his bat after hitting a solo-home run to tie the game against the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning at Safeco Field. Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino (3) is at right. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Since Sept 21 (7 games), Joey Bats has gone 7-for-24 with 3 home runs, 8 RBI, and 5 walks, seemingly heating up at just the right time.

Jose Bautista has really gone through his ups and downs in 2016, his 9th with the Toronto Blue Jays. With just four games remaining this season, Bautista currently has a slash line of .234/.364/.451 with 21 home runs and 67 RBI. The six-time All-Star has been on the DL twice this season, playing in a total of 112 games and 500 plate appearances.

As recently as a few weeks ago, many fans and writers were calling for the end of Bautista’s status as an elite player. However, the two-time AL home run leader has started to heat up at just the right time for both the Blue Jays, and his own good.

Since Sept 21 (7 games), Bautista has gone 7-for-24 with three home runs, eight RBI, and five walks. Using the “eye test”, Bautista has looked a lot more like the player the Blue Jays have leaned on in recent years, and the timing couldn’t be better.

We all remember the significant role that Bautista played in last year’s playoffs, and it extended beyond his signature bat-flip home run. For the post-season, Bautista finished with a line of .293/.408/.659, four home runs, 11 RBI, and eight walks in 41 at bats. The Blue Jays didn’t show off their powerful offence of 2015 in the playoffs, and Bautista was one of the lone Jays to perform well.

The recent surge by the Dominican born star is certainly huge for the club, but it’s equally important for Bautista’s future. As we all know by now, Bautista will be a free agent at season’s end, and finishing strong in the regular season and leading the Jays to an extended playoff run, would go a long way to improving his damaged stock.

His recent power display has pushed him over 20 home runs for 7th time in his career, albeit his lowest total in that time.

That said, 21 (or maybe 22-24) looks a lot better than 19 on the books, and will help his agent this offseason. He has gone deep once every 19.4 AB’s this season, compared to 13.6 in 2015, or 15.8 in 2014. Given the injuries he’s endured, it should be reasonable to argue that those DL stints are responsible for the difference. Bautista’s camp may have a tougher time arguing for the soon-to-be 36 year old’s viability as an outfielder, though that could also help him stay healthy in future season’s.

In the immediate future, the Blue Jays get a healthy and extremely motivated Bautista, who also looks locked in at the plate. His ability to get hot over the next few weeks could literally be the difference between the Blue Jays being serious contenders and being on the couch by the end of next week.

The slugger is in the final games of a 6-year, $78 million dollar contract he signed with the Blue Jays, and no doubt would like to improve on that annual figure with what will likely be his final big league contract.

Next: Blue Jays MiLB season standouts: Buffalo Bisons

Unconfirmed reports indicated that Bautista was looking for somewhere in the neighbourhood of 150 million over five years in spring training, and that’s obviously not going to happen now. That said, if Bautista can add to his playoff resume and lead the Blue Jays deeper into the playoffs than last season, he’ll be looking at a lot more dough than he was, even a few weeks ago.

For everyone involved, here’s hoping he turns into freakin’ Reggie Jackson for the next month.

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