Who’s Your Jose?

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.

Ben Pritchett can be reached at
, because we all need a friend sometimes.

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Comments

  1. Jeffrey Gross said...

    I like Raburn for 2011 as a gamble (Ranked #17 among 2B behind Walker/Figgins, ahead of Kendrick/Aviles in my 2B rankings), but I have a feeling he isn’t as good as expected

  2. kyle said...

    So obviously the easy comparison is brady anderson’s year way back when…I am looking at that year, and his previous years, and I am wondering if (given time travel) you could go back in time to 1995 and see if there was anything in anderson’s season that pointed to a repeat. I don’t have the advanced numbers in front of me, or the ability to read them as well as you folks, but that said, brady’s 50 year came after several 10+ years and one 20hr year….this is kind of similar to jose’s trajectory (or maybe it isn’t). The numbers don’t indicate that a massive regression should come, but isn’t there something to having serious doubts about whether an out-of-nowhere player can repeat such a crazy season? So the numbers don’t seem to indicate anything that screams regress, but what about just plain common sense doubt? How many times has something like this happened and then been repeated? I’m really just asking more questions here, but I have my doubts about bautista, and the numbers are not convincing enough (although maybe they should) to dispel my general doubts about a jose repeat.

  3. Rob said...

    Leave Ryan Raburn alone.  Had him last year and through July, he might have been the worst player in baseball.  I cringe even thinking of selecting him.  Way too inconsistent for my blood.

  4. Ben Pritchett said...

    @kyle- I agree with you on Pedro Alvarez. If you are in a keeper league (and a Pirates fan), I wouldn’t even let thoughts of Bautista as a 3B enter my thought process. I live here in Nashville and got a chance to watch him mash in college.

    As for Brady Anderson, I specifically stated that Jose’s second half was “one of the greatest legitimate power displays in baseball history” for a reason. Whether Brady did steroids or not is still not known, but there were alot of players doing them in the 90’s. I’m pretty positive Bautista is not using.

    Per your request, I looked up what sabrmetrics I could find on Brady. They are similar in that Brady’s ISOP was .340, about 14 points less than Bautista’s .354. I couldn’t find his HR/FB ratio but I’m going to assume it wasn’t quite as high as Bautista. It’s almost not fair to Brady to compare him to Bautista. Brady offered the fantasy gamer much more speed including 53 and 36 steals seasons in 1992 and 1999 respectively.

    Concluding this, my difference in Bautista and Brady Anderson (other than the PED’s issue), is the tweak in Bautista’s mechanics http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/08/24/altered-swing-mechanics-key-to-jose-bautistas-home-run-binge/ and the change in approach implemented by hitting coach Dwayne Murphy to be more like a “beer league softball player” http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/39473583/ns/sports-baseball/.

    The home run stat began to rain down on the American League from that pointon. It starts in Sept. ‘09 where he launched 10 HRs in 109 ABs then 5 more in 57 Spring Training ABs then 54 in his 569 2010 ABs. For me that’s enough of an established record of power success to spend a sixth round pick on 3B with 40+ home run potential. There is still a risk to be Brady, but the fact that I can point to a particular date or moment where it turned around and never looked back gives me more faith that Bautista will repeat somewhat wink.

  5. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Jeffrey Gross- I totally agree. He’s worth the gamble if you are looking for a middle infielder or backup, but I definitely wouldn’t put all my chips on the back of a guy who hasn’t even broken out of his platoon officially. I’d much rather have a Neil Walker.

    @Rob- This wasn’t a ringing endorsement of Ryan Raburn, but more of a fun look into what it takes to make a Jose Bautista. He truly was a one of a kind for at least one season.

  6. Ben Pritchett said...

    @kyle- I understand your dilemma. It took a while for me to accept the fact that Jose may actually put up similar numbers in 2010. Trust me when I say I tried to find reasons to disbelieve. My gut was with you initially, but now my gut is more feeling that he could be a value at the sixth round and beyond. As of today, I probably wouldn’t take the risk on Jose before the sixth. As the drafts draw nearer, I can’t help but feel that he could eventually climb into even my fifth round. Let the experts undervalue him. He’s going before Michael Young and Pedro Alvarez at 3B and after Beltre. That works for me. I’d draft him right there. If you’re looking at him in the OF, he’s running in the Ellsbury range. That’s a tough decision. I’d lean to Bautista still. It’ll depend on what you need at that point.

  7. emoti-conman said...

    @Ben… I respected your information until I noticed the emoticon… next thing you know, you’ll be offering to IM your readers.  Speaking of your readers, @kyle… the change of scenery for Bautista probably helped more than anything.  It’s tough to concentrate on your swing if all you’re doing is hitting a bunch of dongs.

  8. Kyle said...

    @Ben Thanks for the response, I appreciate it. And it makes sense.

    @Emoticonman Sounds more like the hitting coach than the scenery, unless you include the former within the latter.

  9. kyle said...

    @Ben I hear you, I should also mention that it is really tough for me to believe in jose given my status as a pirates fan and my former status as a season ticket holder in pittsburgh when bautista was “patrolling” 3rd base and other positions. But he did hit just an absurd amount of dongs, and it can’t be denied to quickly, especially given the supporting numbers, but what are we really talking here…another 40? 35? I have an easier time getting behind a projection of 35 than I do getting behind one hovering around that 40 mark. Luckily I am in a keeper league and am the proud owner of Mr. Pedro Alvarez and Jose is a non-issue for me. Now I am just curious, if you look at Brady Anderson’s 50 year, what would those numbers “say” to you going into his following year?

  10. Todd said...

    I like the idea of this article, but I feel you missed the boat on your criteria. The reason Jose Bautista’s season was so ridiculous is because of everything you listed, sure. But the real surprise is because he had never been good.

    He had only one season prior to 2010 where he was even given 500 at-bats because he wasn’t good enough to get more. (Unless we’re putting all this on the Pirates’ ability to make roster decisions, which is valid.)

    Nevertheless, the main criteria that needs to be considered when finding the next Jose is finding a player who has never played full-time before, and project him for 50+ home runs.

    For this reason, no one you listed even qualifies except Ryan Raburn. I mean the first three guys listed all have $10+ million/year contracts on the horizon…not exactly coming out of nowhere.

  11. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Emoti-conman- Totally agree. All my credentials went out the window. I put a wink face, and that’s what it posted. I had to ask my wife what an emoticon was. Apparently, that’s the way THT has it set up. Well done, you totally busted me out.

    @Todd- See criteria Number 4 and notice that nobody else came as close as Raburn because of number 4. I also said I see no one on this list coming close to putting up Bautista numbers. It was just a fun journey without a destination. I also looked at guys like Wilson Betemit, but he didn’t have that 8 HR month although he put up 9 over the last two months.

    But again, I totally agree with you and tried to preface that Vernon, Bay, and Granderson just shared some similarities, but they were in no means a “out of nowhere” talent.

  12. MDS said...

    Ryan Raburn looks like a great sleeper at 2B. I have him projected to hit .275-25-85-89-5 which is more valuable than what I have projected for Kelly Johnson.

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