Since the beginning of September 2009, Jose Bautista has become baseball’s best power hitter. Going into September, Jose Bautista had hit 3 home runs all season long while playing in a part time role. Bautista had been working with Jays’ hitting coach Gene Tenace and manager Cito Gaston all season long to correct his wild swing. At the beginning of September, Bautista was told by Gaston that he was going to play every day in right field due to an injury to the Jays. Although Jose’s average and power were down, the Jays were impressed with his eye and his on base percentage and they decided to give him a chance. Bautista went on to hit 10 home runs in the month, including 3 straight home runs in 3 straight games against the Red Sox in Fenway Park as a key part of a 3 game sweep for the Jays. However, the unrecognized birth of a star was overshadowed by the departure of Cy young award winner, Roy Halladay. Season ticket sales went way down as the Jays finished 2009 with a disappointing 75-87 record. All of the Jays’ fans wanted to see someone like an Alex Rodriguez figure brought in. Some fans even called in to Jays talk shows because they wanted to see an aging Barry Bonds brought in to bring excitement to the park. These fans didn’t realize that the newly announced leadoff man in the offseason was the star that would fill that role as the new face of the Blue Jays franchise, and maybe the best player in the MLB.
The 2010 season started off slowly for Jose Bautista, and he quickly lost his job as the leadoff man. However, the Jays still kept finding ways to throw Jose in the lineup. I was one who questioned this heavily. He was hitting .191 with 1 home run on April 18th when I attended, at the time, the smallest crowd in the Skydome’s history (uggh fine… Rogers Centre). The crowd was announced at 10,000, but I think everyone there knew there weren’t 5000 people at the game. At that game, Jose Bautista absolutely crushed 2 home runs to the same spot in left field. The Jays won the game, and this was only a sign of things to come for the team. The next game I went to was against Minnesota when he hit his 11th home run of the year. At this point, I turned to my friend and said that this guy was pretty good. The next game I went to he hit another home run. The next one I went to, 2 home runs. This was the last game I saw before going away to camp for 2 months. Bautista was starting to raise interest in the Blue Jays. I brought my radio up to camp and stayed involved with Bautista. He was hitting home runs with such consistency. He hit 20 in 50 days I was away and was really giving fans a lot to cheer about every game. It was the day after I came back from camp when there weren’t many fans left who were in awe at Bautista. It was a Blue Jays vs Yankees game and Bautista hit a home run to deep left field. Later that game, Ivan Nova of the Yankees threw a head high fastball which Bautista wasn’t happy about. He exchanged some words with Nova and nearly led to the benches clearing. The next at bat, Bautista did this: http://mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=11294279 (please excuse Buck Martinez’s voice) and if you skip to 0:47, you will see Bautista stare down the Yankees reliever, David Robertson. After Bautista did this, I was only further convinced that this guy was for real. He ended the year off with 54 home runs, 100 walks and a .378 Obp. To start the season so far, Bautista leads the majors as of June 12th with 21 home runs, a .494 Obp, .340 avg.
Of course, with every great person’s achievements, there are always those who play it down, think it’s a fluke, or assume that the person who achieved it didn’t achieve their accomplishment properly. With Bautista’s sudden outburst, it leaves many fans across the league with the implication that Bautista is on some sort of “mystery” drug, or the MLB still hasn’t fully solved the steroid scandal. I am a believer that one is innocent until signs point that they are guilty. Not necessarily proven guilty, but that it all makes sense that they are guilty. And then they are guilty in my eyes, until proven innocent. The arguments that people make against Bautista, are that “he never hit more than 16 home runs, how can he cleanly get to 54?” Although this argument sounds legitimate, it is not fair at all. The only thing people are basing their facts that it can’t happen are on old retired steroid users like Barry Bonds and Mark Mcgwire, who lied throughout their careers about being clean. By them using steroids, it not only tarnished their names, but it tarnished EVERY future home run hitting star who may not necessarily be on steroids. So, most people base their arguments that he’s on steroids because most of the great home run hitters in the past 15 years have been on steroids.
I guess the MLB drug testing procedure has really lost the trust of all of the fans. Jose Bautista said that last year he got tested on three separate occasions in the same month. He passed all three tests and all the other tests all year. If that’s going to be taken for granted, then maybe the MLB has to prove the validity of their tests and show that what the players test is actually true and can be trustworthy information to every MLB fan.
Another fact to prove Bautista’s innocence is that his home run power has not changed at all. His average home run distance in 2010 was actually lower than it was in most of his other seasons according to http://www.hittrackeronline.com. I cannot tell you how far the average distance was for most players’ home runs who used steroids, since the site was only made in 2005.
Also, steroids tend to add muscle to a player. If you look at the pictures below, it is pretty evident that Bautista is the same weight and has no added muscle. (I know one picture is taller than the other, but you can look it up for yourself if these pictures aren’t good). He has weighed the same his whole career, and that weight is 190 pounds. I researched this, and there is NO P.E.D that doesn’t increase body mass. There is also no P.E.D that can have all traces removed quickly which would make Bautista vulnerable to fail a test which has failed 32 players in the last 5 years. Also, using PEDs messes up the fertility of a male adult, and if you use a major P.E.D, you won’t be having a kid without lots of difficulty or complications. Yet, Jose Bautista had to miss 4 games in early April for his wife to give birth to a child. 9 months before April was the month of September. That was when he already hit his 54 home runs.
Jose’s pitch selectivity has also really improved. I’m pretty sure steroids don’t help you see the ball better. He’s also claimed to have worked on his swing for a long time and he simply sped it up and swung the bat earlier and harder than he ever did in his career. The fact is, that Bautista always had a dangerous swing throughout his minor league and major league career, but it was never perfected to the point where it is now.
Damien Cox posted a mindless article in the Toronto Star saying that there had to be some link to steroids and Jose in late August of last year. Mr. Cox, I’m sure you’ll never read this, but if you do, please know that you irresponsibly tainted baseball’s most exciting player’s name with the small proof of statistics.
Everyone who says Bautista is on steroids needs to stop and consider all the facts and maybe for once, trust the guy’s word that he is clean and just enjoy his unbelievable play in the field.