|Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a three-run double in the seventh inning during MLB game action against the Chicago Cubs on September 9, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)|
Lost in all of the debate back in July regarding Jose Bautista’s complaints about the Toronto Blue Jays’ inability to make a meaningful trade was the right-fielder’s play. Which is to say, yet again, Bautista is the team’s best player by a wide margin.
Bautista came into Tuesday’s game with a .288 batting average and an on-base percentage just shy of .400. He had homered in six straight home games, giving him 32 for the year, plus 92 runs batted in. And unlike nearly every one of his teammates in the field, he has largely stayed healthy.
That has played a big part in him surpassing 5.0 wins above replacement (Fangraphs’ calculation), a statistic that tries to capture a player’s overall contribution, for the third time in his career. Only Carlos Delgado and Devon White have accomplished the same feat as position players with Toronto. It is an arbitrary cut-off point, sure, and a flawed statistic, but indicative of consistent excellence.
As with Delgado (and Roy Halladay, who had an amazing six such seasons in Toronto), the Blue Jays appear doomed to waste Bautista’s brilliance. Still, he is going to go out swinging. He had the key hit in a second-straight Toronto win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, a 9-2 victory.
The Blue Jays will have to win the vast majority of their 18 remaining games to make a run at one of the two wild card spots, but their star kept that improbable goal within the orbit. With a full count and two outs in the seventh inning, Bautista drilled a pitch from Neil Ramirez down the left-field line for a double, clearing the previously loaded bases. Bautista added a fourth RBI in the five-run eighth inning. He also drove in three runs on Monday night, via a home run.
With Edwin Encarnacion still obviously hobbled by his right quadriceps injury, and the rest of the offence delivering in fits, the Blue Jays have transformed into the Bautista show to end the year. If some found his questioning of Blue Jays management distasteful, they can have no qualms with his production as the season winds down.