At 36, and a young 36 at that, the Blue Jays had pretty big expectations, or at the very least expected a little more from what Jose Bautista has contributed in 2017.
Toronto committed $18 million to their long time right fielder this season, believing that Bautista would yet again be one of the key pieces of their offense. Although he’s looked far better defensively than the previous few seasons, it’s his performance at the plate that has many wondering what’s going on with the 6-time all-star.
When you look at Bautista’s numbers this season compared to players who are a similar age or even a bit older than he is, they’re pretty much all out performing the Toronto slugger. So the question about Bautista being too old shouldn’t ring true because so many other players his age are doing just fine.
One statistic that really jumps out when comparing Bautista to players of a similar age, is how many more games he’s played than the rest of them. The crazy thing is, it isn’t just that Bautista has played so much more during the regular season compared to players in his age bracket, he also took part in the World Baseball Classic in March, and has played pretty deep into the post-season the past two years.
Have the Blue Jays asked too much of Bautista by having him play all but four games this year? He’s been a mainstay in the heart of the Blue Jays line-up for so many years that this ball club has trouble doing anything other than continuing to play him much like they have the past seven seasons. The Blue Jays had Nori Aoki, a player more than capable to shoulder the load with Bautista out in right field. But instead of utilizing Aoki to give Bautista a little extra rest, the Blue Jays designated him for assignment and then went ahead and released the talented Japanese outfielder.
The Blue Jays September call-ups include the talented young outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, but how often will Gibbons and his old-school philosophies even consider playing such an inexperienced player over such an iconic player like Bautista? At 36, I truly believe Bautista is a far cry better than his .205 AVG and 28.5% strikeout rate. Chances are Bautista can still be a respectable hitter in the big leagues, just not when he’s expected to play each and every game.