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Pitching may have been the story of the day over the weekend, but also notable Sunday was that Jose Bautista's bat showed just the kind of power that the Toronto Blue Jays are looking for.
Bautista had his first multi-homer game of the season (his first since last June 19th) in the Blue Jays win over the Boston Red Sox, for their second straight win at Fenway Park.
Though Bautista is hitting only .246 this season, his other two slashline numbers (a .360 on-base percentage and .544 slugging percentage) are impressive. He only has 28 hits this season, but 16 are for extra bases.
Bautista is starting to heat up. He hit only .200 with an .836 OPS and 23 percent strikeout rate in April, but is hitting .333 with a 1.017 OPS and an 11 percent strikeout rate in May.
For the most part, pitchers have come to realize this and are pitching him more carefully. He’s drawn 10 walks this month after drawing 11 in April.
Bautista has been more selective. In his last 53 plate appearances, he’s only swung at 16 percent of pitches out of the strike zone.
In April, that chase rate was closer to one of every four pitches outside the zone.
MLB Leaders- Hard-Hit Average
What has been consistent for Bautista is that he has been hitting the ball hard. Except now his hard-hit balls are going either over the fence, or finding spots where fielders are unable to make plays.
One of the stats our data providers provide us is “hard-hit average” – in other words: how often is the player making solid contact. The judgment is subjective, but is based on careful video review and follow-up discussion to attempt to unify opinions.
Bautista had a .253 hard-hit average in April and a .262 hard-hit average in May.
But Bautista was only 12-for-19 when getting credited with a hard-hit ball in April. In May, he's 10-for-10.
He ranks eighth in the majors for the season with a .256 hard-hit average, one point behind Edwin Encarnacion, whose batting average has also been a bit low (.231) this season.
But keep this in mind as we watch what Bautista (and Encarnacion) do moving forward. The six hitters currently above them in hard-hit average (as noted in the chart on the right) are all hitting .290 or better.
Dan Braunstein and Justin Havens contributed research to this post