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Blue Jays seeing what they want from Jose Bautista in WBC

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Mar 12, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Dominican Republic outfielder Jose Bautista (19) hits the ball in the third inning against Colombia during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 12, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Dominican Republic outfielder Jose Bautista (19) hits the ball in the third inning against Colombia during the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /
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The World Baseball Classic is well underway. While multiple Blue Jays are representing their various countries, Jose Bautista has been dominating the affair.

“Joey Bats” put on quite the show in WBC’s Pool D, helping aide his Dominican Republic Team to the second round. On a team that features the likes of Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado, and Adrian Beltre, it would be hard for one player to stick out over the rest. However, that is exactly what Bautista has done in the early tournament.

Jose Bautista entered Spring Training as a man on a mission. Early on he showed that he was still a complete player. Bautista was on a tear offensively, and showed that he still had some decent stuff in the outfield. Bautista and the Blue Jays were both keen to see the same performance on the international stage, and I don’t think either of them are disappointed in the results.

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While a small sample size, only three games, the 6-time All-Star’s numbers are exceptional. He has compiled an .455 Average and an OBP of .533. In his 11 Plate appearances he has driven in 5 runs, on 5 hits. He has scored 3 times and even managed a stolen base. His strikeout to BB ratio is even at 2 a piece.

However, these stats do not quite do justice to his play over the last three games. He isn’t simply mashing the ball, he’s playing it. Finding gaps in the defense and sticking it there. He’s showing more discipline at the plate than simple patience.

That is not, however, the only part of his game that’s been amped up during this series.

Not only is this throw impressive, but it’s done from a position of unfamiliarity. Bautista has primarily played Right Field in his career, and yet still managed to make this game-saving throw. Even more exciting is the idea that he might prove to be a defensive asset this year, instead of a liability. One of the biggest questions facing Bautista in the offseason has been how he’ll perform in the field. By the looks of it, I’d say pretty well.

The Blue Jays’ own defensive wiz himself had something to say about his fellow outsider’s arm. Bautista had been a strong defender at his position until nagging injuries suffered the last few seasons seemed to weigh on his performance. There certainly didn’t seem to be any lingering issues with that throw.

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The WBC is only just starting, and Bautista will undoubtedly regress as the tournament goes on. However, the Blue Jays have to feel excited by his performances. The veteran has looked like he had something to prove during Spring Training, and that has carried over to his International performance.

Jays’ fans should be excited, as I anticipate we’ll see more of this production all season long.

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