Monday, January 10, 2011
Who’s Your Jose?Posted by Ben Pritchett at 1:06am
Once upon a time in the Land of Celine, there lived a man whose legend was that of myth and ancient lore. He roamed the frigid dirt to the North but his story resonated to all who would listen. This great warrior’s spirit lies in the Ruthian power that exploded from his core. Many a rival quaked in fear as no man could contain him nor could they explain him. His name is Jose Bautista, and there is only one Jose. This is the story of my failed quest to find the 2011 Reincarnation of the Great Jose Bautista...
In all seriousness, this task was rather lofty, and I expected to fail. We’ll look at the ramifications of the Jose Bautista 2010 season later. As we begin to critique my failures, I want you to understand the parameters I set for myself as I began this journey. I first tried to dissect Jose’s season and determine some characteristics that could identify a future Jose. I came up with four Jose-like breakout indicators:
1. Age 28+: I included all players over age 28 in this pool, but I tried to concentrate on the guys who were one strikeout away from playing for the Yomiuri Giants.
2. Change in approach (swing, discipline, stance, etc...): This can be a fun statistically undefined tactic, but we all love to watch the newswire with bated breath, waiting to see who gained weight, who lost weight, who got LASIK, who got Kevin Long to fix his swing (for all you Jeter lovers out there), and who is just doing a total overhaul.
3. Second-half power upswing (eight or more home runs in either August or September in 2010 or an ISOP of .280+): I love second-half stat increases. The hope these bring are always intriguing whether they actually point to future success or not.
4. Post Non-Hype Breakout: These are guys who lack the pedigrees of the Jay Bruces and Matt Wieters of the world.
First of all, I could not find one player who met all three character traits, only furthering my hypothesis that Jose Bautista circa 2010 was a one-time event. I did, however, find several players who met two or three of the criteria. These are my favorites of the list.
Age 28+, second-half power upswing: Vernon Wells.
It pains me to bring Wells to this list. To say the least, I’m not a fan. With no other options that aren’t stud level, I arrive at Vernon Wells. He started off 2010 with a .330 BA/9 HR month and ended with a .298 BA/8 HR month. Everything else in between wasn’t eye opening.
He was finally healthy and his power was notching in as the highest of his career. If his HR/FB ratio were to rise from 15 percent, 35 home runs are possible. According to MockDraftCentral, he’s going 98th overall. That’s fair but definitely not as low as Jose last year. Additionally, Vernon is a well known and hated entity. Well, maybe that’s just me. Vernon will not sneak up on anyone like Bautista did in 2010, and I think that’s a good thing.
Age 28+, change in approach: Jason Bay.
Prior to his season-ending concussion, Bay was tinkering with his swing, and now that he’s missed a significant amount of 2010, he’ll have to do a complete overhaul. Few had a worse season than Bay in 2010. Expectations were high and he more than failed to deliver. I think he’ll work hard this offseason and regain some of that power. I like him in this list because he represents a Josesque value at a 177 pick (MDC). Like Vernon, he has already established himself, but with a good, HEALTHY spring, he could offer you some power even if he calls Citi home. I’d say a safe .270 BA/20-25 HR/80+ RBI line would be reasonable, but he’s no “Jason” Bautista.
Age 28+, change in approach, second-half power upswing: Curtis Granderson.
Granderson may be the most fun guy on the list. All his indicators line up with that of Bautista sans his well established reputation as a solid fantasy player. Curtis struggled through 2010 until he worked with Kevin Long to “quiet” his swing. As The New York Times reported in August, Long was attempting to compact Granderson’s swing into tighter movements. This resulted in a nine-home run month of September. He still has the potential for 30-plus home runs and 30-plus steals, but he is also valued as such with a sixth-round draft position (MDC). He can’t realistically be considered a comparison to Jose Bautista, but the similarities are still fun to recognize. Who knows? With Yankee stadium, any given left-handed hitter could go for 50. Obviously, I’m kidding.
Age 28+, with second-half power upswing, post non-hype breakout: Ryan Raburn. Ryan had eight home runs in the month of August and followed that up with another five in September. Both months he hit over .300. Ryan Raburn represents a very interesting play and has the closest story to Jose Bautista’s. He didn’t change his approach, and he is still in a battle for playing time with Brennan Boesch.
I like Ryan Raburn, and he played 15 games at second, which could give him more fantasy value for 2011. If given 500-plus at-bats, I still couldn’t see more than 30 home runs. I will be watching the Tigers' spring training games, and if Ryan’s success carries over into the spring, he will get my Jose Bautista Reincarnation Award for 2011.
Lastly , I would like to address the experts and analysts. I have researched, observed, recorded, and disseminated Jose Bautista’s stellar year and cannot find one reason to dismiss a repeat. His second half may very well be one of the greatest legitimate power displays in baseball history. He hit .284 BA/33 HR/72 RBI in the second half. His ISOP was .357, almost 60 points better than Miguel Cabrera at second with .294. According to Hittracker online, he had the most “no doubt” home runs at 19.
I know the knocks that he doesn’t spray the ball around and he’s only done it for one year. But if Alex Gordon were to hit 54 home runs and have the sabrmetrics that Jose has then he’d be the no. 1 pick. I know there’s no way he maintains his 22 percent home-run-to-fly-ball ratio. I also know there’s little chance at 54 homers in 2010, but I think he replaces some home runs with batting average.
Both Baseball Prospectus and Ron Shandler have his adjusted batting average for 2010 in the .330 range. That’s nasty considering he only hit .260. My projection is .275 BA/40 HR/110 RBI. When everyone else passes, I will be jumping in, bad boy. Feel free to leave your Jose in the comments section, or if you don't like my Joses then you can tell me why.