Thursday, September 23, 2010
Miguel Tejada, 2005 Topps Total Production #TP-MT
...And then move over. Jose Bautista, a 29-year-old journeyman who has changed teams seven times (Drafted by the Pirates, claimed by the Orioles in the Rule 5 draft, claimed on waivers by the Devil Rays, purchased by the Royals, traded to the Mets, traded to the Pirates, traded to the Blue Jays), hit his 50th home run of the 2010 season this afternoon. Considering that he had 59 career home runs prior to that, this has come as something of a shock, although he always had enough potential to tantalize all of those teams to acquire him. Since he first received significant playing time in 2006, he had averaged about 15 longballs per year. He made his major league debut with the O's back in 2004, but received only two starts and 12 plate appearances in two months before the club decided that they couldn't spare a roster spot and Tampa Bay grabbed him off the waiver wire. His spot on the major league roster was taken by Jose Leon, and you can supply your own punchline.
You might have noticed that the Jays are all swinging for the fences this year, so it seems like the club's offensive philosophy coupled with an increase in playing time has allowed Jose to turn it loose. Good for him, even if it turns out to be a fluke. Even with the power spike caused by juiced balls, smaller parks, juiced players, expansion-diluted pitching, and more aggressive hitters, there are still only 26 men who ever belted half-a-century in one season. Bautista's the first to get to 50 since 2007, so things are regressing back to the mean. Now we'll see how long it takes an Oriole to make it to 40 again, much less 50.