As Toronto Blue Jays star Jose Bautista’s tenure is coming to an end, I give my toast to the cornerstone of the franchise.
I remember right before the start of the 2010 season, I was a 9-year-old kid, walking on the sidewalk with my father. I remember the words that came out of my dad’s mouth like it was yesterday, “Guess who is going to be leading off for the Blue Jays next season?” I said, “who?” he responds “Our guy, Jose Bautista.”
Fast forward to today, eight years after having a conversation I will never forget with my father, and eight years after Bautista got the number #23 off his back. The “leadoff hitter” has become one of the biggest stars the city of Toronto has ever seen.
Bautista didn’t last too long in that leadoff spot thankfully. After struggling vitality to begin the 2010 season, one of the biggest lineup switches in Blue Jays history occurred, as Cito Gaston moved Bautista into the three hole.
I have never forgotten these three numbers in my life, Bautista’s batting average, home run total and runs batted in from his 2010 breakout season.
Bautista has been questioned his whole life, he had his fair share of haters all the way up to his 2010 breakout season, and he was doubted more after it. He signed a $65-million, five-year extension and fans thought it was a mistake, thinking last year was just a fluke, pitchers will figure him out. Fans criticized him for never playing in the postseason, but you can’t play in the playoffs when the team around you doesn’t perform. Bautista has made all his doubters look stupid until now.
Bautista has reached the end. He doesn’t have his lightning-quick bat speed anymore, that great hip torque he generated his power from isn’t quite the same. Instead, he is a well below average outfielder who makes you cringe every time a ball is hit to him. He’s a .200 hitter with an ISO 67 points below his career average. But that’s the reality of fathers time, every star will decline at the end (except David Ortiz), it’s just hard to believe the end is here.
With his Blue Jays career coming to an end, we have to remember the greatest clutch hitter in the team’s history. We have to remember the player who gave us hope when we thought all hope was lost like in game 6 in the 2015 ALCS or the classic game 5 of the ALDS. We have to remember the man who hit more home runs after being thrown at than anyone in baseball. We have to remember the cannon from right field. We have to remember the man who saved baseball in Toronto and north of the border. Most importantly, we can never forget the feeling we got when we heard Tim Langton say batting third playing right field number 19 Jose Bautista.
This looks like it’s it for Jose Bautista, but who am I to say “our guy” won’t play another season and prove us all wrong one more time.
Thank you for everything, Jose Bautista.
Originally Published Sep 22, 2017