From Fringe Player to All-Star
Everyone loves a good comeback story, rooting for the underdog who changes fate and comes back against all odds. Often times the individual or team simply needs a chance, and someone to believe in them, and this is very much the case in the story of Jose Bautista. A player who had bounced around organizations like a pinball, he actually played on four different MLB teams in 2004, trying to find a club that he could stick with. In 2008, Bautista was stuck playing out a fringe Major Leaguer's career, mired in mediocrity with the ever disappointing Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Trade to Toronto
In August 2008, after dropping out of the big leagues once again, Bautista found himself back playing for the triple-A affiliate of the Pirates. Jose was then traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for Robinzon Diaz. Little did Pittsburgh know they were making a big mistake. After continued offensive struggles for the following season, Bautista started playing regularly for the Jays.
A Momentum "Swing"
Late in 2009 it has been suggested that the coaching staff started to work very hard on improvingJose's swing mechanics. He had a very good September in 2009, hitting 10 of his 13 homeCredit: Keith Allison runs for the season. His continued work in the offseason to become a better player helped Bautista to enter into the 2010 season with a bang. He missed only one game all season, and switched from playing third base to primarily starting at right field. With the improvement at the plate and the confidence that he would play everyday, Bautista batted .260 while leading the league with 54 home runs, one of which was an inside-the-park home run. He also knocked in 124 RBI's and in addition to being dangerous in the batting lineup, became a defensive nightmare for opposing clubs. His strong arm in right field allowed him to rack up a number of outfield assists throwing out runners. His impressive performance earned him a reserve spot in the All-Star game, 4th runner up in MVP voting, and a Silver Slugger award.
A New Season
Jose Bautista's performance over the previous season was recognized by the Blue Jays, as GM Alex Anthopoulos signed him to a new 5 year, $64Million contract. Some speculated he was a "flash in the pan" kind of player who had one good season, and possibly that a large contract would ruin his motivation. In 2011 Jose continues to prove critics wrong, and 83 games into the season he leads the league in home runs with 31, five ahead of the next closest player. Not only that, but he is also top 5 in the American League in RBI, and second in average at approximately .330. He received the most All-Star votes in MLB history, and at this rate, Jose Bautista is on his way to a potential MVP season.