Yeah, I have been skeptical too. How can a guy go from pretty much nothingness to the best slugger in the game without, you know, "help". Hard to set aside that cynicism nowadays. Not knowing much about Bautista, kind of a default setting. Which is why this piece from Yahoo Sports earlier this week that I just ran across is such a superlative read, because it provides all sorts of background into who Bautista is and why this might be happening without "help":
There's a lot to like there. Smart guy who has worked hard to unlock and maximize his talent. That's a narrative that I can buy into after reading the piece. Oh, and it burns a bit that the Reds had identified him as an amateur and offered him $300K and then took the offer off the table when Lindner acquired the team and pulled the money.
A taste from the piece:
Jose Bautista always got A's in classes that involved math. Algebra, geometry, chemistry, physics: the discipline never mattered. His mind worked like a calculator. Bautista took English lessons as an 8-year-old in the Dominican Republic, and eventually he learned the language, but he preferred the earnestness of numbers. They never lied to him.
"There are no flaws in math," Bautista says. "You can have 50 people read one paragraph, and they're going to interpret it in 50 ways. You can't find anybody who would say two plus two doesn't equal four."
More than any sport, baseball loves its numbers. They catalog its past and always have foretold its future. They enforce the game's caste system. There are superstars, stars, good players, average players, journeymen, fill-ins and minor leaguers. No one moves more than a standard deviation or two from his dominion.
Which is why the game struggles to wrap its mind around Bautista, the Toronto Blue Jays' right fielder. What he did remains inconceivable: evolve from a nobody, a piece cast off by the sport's dregs, into the most dangerous hitter on the planet. He hit 54 home runs last year when no one else hit 40, and he followed up this season with the best two-month stretch since Barry Bonds.
Really good stuff in the article as a whole and well worth a few minutes of your time if you have not read it yet.