Prior to his power surge last season, the most home runs Jose Bautista had hit in a single season was 16 (2006). In 2010, Bautista set a Blue Jays single-season record by belting 54. The Toronto right fielder has played for six different teams in eight seasons (in chronological order): Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Kansas City Royals, New York Mets, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays.
Like almost any other slugger of this era, Bautista's numbers have raised some eyebrows. Why would a player with average power the first six years of his career suddenly become the most feared bat in the American League? Swing adjustments? New workout regimen? Pilates? Bautista has been tested for performance enhancing drugs - like all other players in the league - and has passed each time. So why is his performance in question? Because even though the hard evidence (testing) points to the contrary, it's hard to believe that Bautista acquired the power and ability to hit 54 home runs so quickly without using PED's.
This season has been no different from his last. Through 40 games, the 2010 Home Run Champion has hit a league-leading 16 home runs - equal to his pre-2010 career high. Three of them came today at one of the league's most pitcher-friendly ballparks, Target Field. In the past 19 games, Bautista is hitting .415 with 13 home runs and 21 rbis. Despite his success with the long ball last year, there weren't many who believed that Bautista would go on to repeat as the league's home run champ. By the looks of it now, no one is even going to touch him. He has 16 home runs; yet, he's played fewer games than most of the other top sluggers in the league due to injury earlier in the season. Talk about year of the pitcher. Jose Bautista doesn't care.
Unfortunately for the 2010 Silver Slugger Award Winner, in today's MLB, a multitude of home runs brings with it a great deal of speculation. There will always be questions about how Bautista seemingly became Roger Maris overnight. However, for now, why not enjoy one of the few players who continues to succeed in a league that is now being dominated by pitchers. Due to the talent in the AL East, it will probably be a long time before Bautista hits any post season home runs. For the next few years, the 2010 Silver Slugger Award will have to settle for frustrating the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays as they battle down the stretch for the AL East crown.