Jose Bautista – 2006 Topps Update

November 29, 2010

Show Him The Money, Now!

Jose Bautista was already wealthy by most accounts. He’s now eligible for arbitration, and may soon sign a contract that would come close to the GDP of Sao Tome & Principe.

Of course, the cry is ‘steroids’, but that is a knee-jerk reaction which ignores the fact that throughout history, players have dramatically increased their home run numbers year over year.

Yeah, 54 homers is a bit extreme for a guy with modest power numbers beforehand, but the park factors of the Rogers Centre were INSANE this year (105), compared to it being historically neutral. They year before, the park effect was (96), so it was a pitchers park. That’s a nine-point effect swing. What was up in Toronto anyway? They Jays hit 35 more home runs at home than on the road.

Brian Roberts went from four homers to 18 (and that was two years after he ‘juiced’), Wade Boggs went from eight to 24 in the year of the juiced ball (1987), and Bert Campaneris smashed 22 home runs in 1970, and his next highest total was eight.

Remember Cecil Fielder? Yeah, he had some power in the minors, but in 558 plate appearances before 1990 he hit 31 home runs. In 1990, he had 673 plate appearances and 51 home runs.

George Foster went from 29 home runs to 52 between 1976 and 1977. Again, not on Bautista’s scale, but that’s a big difference in dinger totals – especially in a low-scoring era.

And of course Ned Williamson went from two to 24 home runs between 1883 and 1884. Of course, the new Lake Front Park that the White Stockings played in had a HUGE factor in that. As well as the fact that there were THREE “major” leagues and 33 total ‘major league’ franchises. Talk about watering down the talent pool!

Well, anyway, I hate the steroid talk. I’m not burying my head in the sand, but I don’t think it helped McGwire, Bonds or Sosa that much. There are so many variables to home run totals – the ball (don’t think MLB doesn’t juice it up), the wind, the pitching (12-man staffs really dilute the talent), the ballparks, the strike zone (a narrow strike zone has a huge impact on the number of meatballs a batter gets because the pitcher is down 2-0 and 3-1 all the time), etc. etc. I don’t think Bautista juiced. He found a groove and it was his year.

It will be quite interesting to see Bautista’s home run totals next year. He may dip down to 25 or 30, and that would be normal. One big reason is pitchers making adjustments to him.

This past season, Jays opponents had to deal with up to eight players with double digit home run power in the lineup. You couldn’t pitch around Bautista, because Wells or Lind were behind them, or Overbay, or Buck, or…

You get the idea. In 2011, the Jays will have remodeled a bit, and it will be interesting to see how pitchers deal with Bautista if the lineup around him has a little less power.

+++++

BTW – Looky over to the right. I’ve added some trading lists. My want list will be updated soon, and I’ll add two more trading lists for post-junk cards and ye olde junk wax era.

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