Sunday, July 10, 2011

Can We Just Enjoy Jose Bautista?

Let's face it: We have become a people of skepticism. And that's understandable. The steroid era filled us with cynicism and embarrassed us. We went all gaga with our admiration of McGwire and Sosa only to find out that they had a little help. The best pitcher and best hitter of our age both had perjury trials this year. We watched Rafael Palmeiro tell congress he didn't use and then he was suspended by baseball for using. We were bitten and now we don't want to believe anymore. But the backlash is ugly and it's ruining our pure joy for the game. Albert Pujols broke his arm and was back playing after sixteen days. A story on Yahoo Sports toyed with the idea that Pujols' early return was worthy of doubt. And for two years now, people have been saying that Jose Bautista couldn't be doing what he is doing now without some help.

Well, at least half the time that's what you heard. The other half of the time was that Bautista's season last year was a fluke. That he couldn't do it again. But since that argument has been shattered by Bautista's 31 homers by the All Star break, we go back to the other whispers and innuendos. Can't we stop it already? Can't we just appreciate the beauty of what Bautista is doing? Can't we have any heroes anymore?

We've gotten to the point where we can't have players doing too well. They can do good things as long as they only hit around 30 homers. Hit any more for the season and we have to suspect it. Oh, it's okay if a pitcher does great things. Though pitchers probably used steroids and other PEDs as much as hitters did. It's okay if Roy Halladay is unbeatable or if Aroldis Chapman can throw a pitch 105 miles per hour or that Justin Verlander can throw 98 from the beginning of the game until the end. We don't question those. But hit too many homers, especially after a career of indifference and you get the scorn.

Stop it already. Just stop it. Let it go. Until there is proof otherwise of course. But look at Bautista. He isn't some kind of musclebound freak. He looks like a normally athletic guy just hitting the snot out of the ball on a regular basis. This Fan just wants to enjoy this ride. The child inside wants to have wonder again. The boy who grew up loving baseball doesn't want to be a cynical old man reading cynical writers around the country. This is a fabulous story that is too often clouded by doubt.

What we are seeing is incredible. And it's not just the homers. Bautista's slash line is .332/.468/.702. His OPS is 1.169 at the All Star break! He has already compiled 6.5 wins above replacement when his monster season last year only netted him 6.9. And he has half the season to go! His walk rate is 19.9 percent while his strikeout rate is only 18.3. For every ten times he comes to the plate, he's going to get on base (or more) five times! His homer to fly ball ratio is higher than last year. 46 of his 98 hits have been for extra bases. His wOBA is .486. His win probability added is already at 5.50. It's all amazing. Everywhere you look at his stats, it's amazing. He doesn't have a negative score against any pitch type. In other words, there isn't anything you can throw him that he doesn't have a chance to hit.

Can't we just enjoy that? Can't we sit back in awe and wonder and celebrate such a worthy season? This Fan is going to and you can't stop him from doing so. Earn your street cred by knocking it if you will. But not in this space. This is a Fan's space and perhaps it is naive, perhaps there are rose-colored glasses. This ride is so much fun right now that there is no way it's going to be derailed by naysayers. Jose Bautista is the bomb and his explosion is a magical carpet ride with seat belts.


Dear Mr. Fantasy said...

Jose Bautista is not only the best player for his on-field heroics, he is an amazing presence to the Toronto clubhouse. This guy is a LEADER, plain and simple.

As a Jays fan, it is nice to see some recognition thrown his way. Leading the All Star ballot was great to see.

Now, people are starting to realize 2010 was NOT a fluke but that "Joey Bats" is the real deal.

Nice post!

William Tasker - Caribou, ME said...