After a number of player substitutions and position changes that occurred late in this afternoons game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays, Jose Bautista wound up of all places at 1st base, and he didn’t look too bad.
For a few years now Bautista’s play in right field has slipped…he can still unload a great throw when needed, but his range, especially when running back for balls over his head isn’t what it needs to be for an everyday right fielder. By the end of last year, he looked fatigued playing a position that required him to exert much energy and that took its toll on his body over the course of the season.
Bautista looked good playing 1st base, almost natural, which isn’t much of a surprise considering how much time he’s spent playing at 3rd during his career. His experience at 3rd base means he’ll have no trouble adjusting to hard hit ground balls at 1st base.
Bautista is a player, who despite being 35, feels he has a lot of baseball left in him. At the beginning of spring training 2016, when rumours were circulating that Jose was looking for a five year deal after his current contract expired at the end of the 2016 season, I thought it was crazy to think he’d be able to play another five years as an everyday right fielder when his defensive skills had already been slipping for several years. After the 2016 season, Bautista has what it takes to play another five years, just not as a right fielder. He’s been one of the most prolific power hitters in baseball for the past seven seasons, and that most likely isn’t going to change anytime soon. What does need to change however if Bautista wants to play until he’s 40 at relatively the same level he has been since reinventing himself with Toronto in 2010, is for him to make the switch and become a part or full-time 1st basemen.