The Toronto Blue Jays have seen some pretty great years and Jose Bautista’s 2011 is right up there among the best
The other day I was watching the Blue Jays take on the Yankees and as I watched Cavan Biggio slap a single into left field to tie the game 7-7 in the 9th, it got me thinking. The Blue Jays went onto to lose that game the very next half inning, but it made me realize how great Biggio has been since being called up from AAA Buffalo. After that, I headed over to Fangraphs to find some supporting evidence or interesting stats to tweet out as I often do (at least I find them interesting).
I’m all in on Biggio, huge fan of his approach. Kid has a 17.3 BB% so far in 110 PA. If he kept that pace the only Other #BlueJays to replicate that or better in a single season are
2011 Bautista 20.2%
1989 McGriff 17.5%
2000 Delgado 17.3%
— Stephen Brown (@DTSB_98) June 26, 2019
And as it usually does, Fangraphs had me jumping down a rabbit hole I didn’t even know I needed to explore. I wouldn’t call myself Alice, but when it comes to the Blue Jays this was definitely Wonderland worthy. Jose Bautista’s 2011 season didn’t include almost batting .400 and it didn’t end with a World Series title like John Olerud’s 1993 did. Bautista didn’t win the MVP award like Josh Donaldson did in 2015 and no, he did not have 145 RBI as Carlos Delgado did in 2003. So, what made it so special? Well, sit back and allow me to take you on a stroll down memory lane to look at one of the greatest offensive seasons ever by Blue Jay and of this decade.
The 2011 Blue Jays finished 81-81, which put them for 4th in the AL East. Aside from Bautista, the team was led by Rickey Romero and Brandon Morrow on the mound. Also, we were just getting our first glimpse and the probably the best 43 game stretch of Brett Lawrie’s career. Adam Lind was in his second straight season of trying to recapture his silver slugger form and the Aaron Hill era in Toronto had just come to a close. We were still learning how to appreciate Edwin Encarnacion and we thought we had found the shortstop of the present and or future in Yunnel Escobar.
But Bautista was a man on a mission and was the club’s leader in every single major offensive category. He proved his 54 home run 2010 season was not just a fluke. Looking back at how it all ended, I wish I went down to see more games then, he really was magnificent. In fact, here’s how dominant Bautista was from 2010 to 2015.
But back to 2011. What about 2011 was so special? Why is this season in particular comparable to Olerud’s 1993, or Delgado’s 2003 or Donaldson’s 2015? Well, let’s take a look at the numbers.
It’s virtually a tie between Bautista, Olerud, and Delgado when it comes to wRC+. Yes, Donaldson won the MVP award because he was a great defensive player and the aforementioned players were *not*. But we’re talking offense here, not boring old defense!
But where does Bautista’s 2011 season rank in the past decade? I’m glad you asked. It’s hard to compare players across different eras and sometimes silly to do so. Especially with the way the baseball has been flying recently. So, maybe we can gain a better perspective of how stupidly good Bautista was that particular season.
(Side note: Mike Trout is very good at baseball. Thank you for coming to this unintended TedTalk)
Fifth best, are you kidding me?! How the hell did he not win the MVP award??
*Checks 2011 AL MVP race*
Justin Verlander won the MVP award and the CY Young that season and I mean… no, he totally deserved both. The man had a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings pitched while going 24-5. Jacoby Ellsbury finishing second in the voting, to me, is kinda poop, but that’s just how things were back in 2011. There was no “Bat Flip” back then. Delgado hit 4 home runs in a game that one time in front of 13,000 fans and that was… cool? I don’t know. 2006 was… exciting? Roy Halladay spun a lot of gems in the 2000s and even he didn’t really get much respect. It was a different time to be a Jays fan in what a lot of people consider the dead years (1993 to 2015).
My call is to current fans out there. Don’t let future Blue Jay fans go without knowing how much of a goat Jose Bautista was and still is. Just to think, the inspiration for this article was an RBI single to LF by Biggio in a more or less meaningless game. Ah, Baseball, the Beautiful game.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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