When the Blue Jays acquired Jose Bautista from the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2008, I knew nothing about him. I remember thinking his last name reminded me of former Blue Jay shortstop Tony Batista who had a silly batting stance but plenty of power. In 2008, Bautista got into 21 games for the Jays, hitting three home runs.
Six Blue Jays hit more home runs than 28-year old Bautista in 2009: Hill, Lind, Barajas, Overbay, Wells and Rios. That's right, catcher Rod Barajas out slugged Joey Bats back in 2009. None of us saw 2010 coming.
To be honest, I initially resented Bautista. I grew up loving George Bell and took some comfort that he still held the franchise record for home runs in a season. Not even Carlos Delgado ever hit 47 homers in a season for the Jays, but here was Bautista, seemingly coming out of nowhere to set the new standard. Bautista's 2010 season was exceptional, but his 2011 season was even better.
Take a look at Bautista's numbers in 2010 and 2011. No Blue Jays batter has put together back-to-back seasons as stellar as these. He was the best player in baseball.
Bautista would put up four more fantastic seasons, culminating in 2015's bat flip in that seventh inning of the ALDS against the Rangers. I can't tell you how many times I've re-watched this 7th inning and every time my heart flips with Joey's bat. It's the greatest Blue Jays moment since Joe touched 'em all in '93 and we'll have it forever.
I'm going to miss watching Joey Bats suit up for my Jays. He's the best Blue Jay of the past decade and, in my humble opinion, one of the five greatest Blue Jays of all-time.
Thank you, Jose.