Roman philosopher Seneca once said, "A change of place imparts new vigor to the mind."
A human hot potato, the outfielder/corner infielder has been passed around often during his six-year major league career. During that span he's donned five different jerseys. When he finally planted roots in Pittsburgh, only marginal numbers were achieved. His .254-15-63-75-6 campaign in 2007, though respected by NL-only players, was largely glanced over by the mixed league masses.
So far this season, the journeyman has wielded an effective bat. Operating primarily in the seventh spot after a brief, unproductive experiment at leadoff, he's clubbed seven homers with 23 RBIs, 19 runs and three steals. With runners in scoring position, the opportunistic hitter has thrived, compiling a .300 BA.
Unfortunately, based on his unsightly .211 BA, most unimpressed fanatics have immediately shunned the 18-percent owned commodity. To them, long make-out sessions with Betty White are more attractive.
But despite the unacceptable BA, the 29-year-old is mixed-league rosterable. Adam Dunn(notes), Dan Uggla(notes) and Chris Young are just a few examples of low average players who've historically reaped tremendous fortunes for risk-taking owners.
Those who've already taken the Bautista plunge have been richly rewarded. According to Baseball Monster, he's performed at an identical level as Alex Rodriguez(notes) and has outpaced hyped crackerjacks Ryan Zimmerman(notes), Justin Upton(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes). Of course the sample size is small and the likelihood he will continue to outplay such proven commodities is minute, but he's more valuable than you think. Quietly he's on pace for a 32-106-87-13 effort.
Signs of a power breakthrough became apparent late last season. While most undedicated rawhide players turned their attention to the NFL gridiron, the Dominican import was flourishing. Over 96 September at-bats the championship difference maker crushed eight homers, drove in 18 and scored 19 runs, an explosion which likened to Ben Zobrist's(notes) in late 2008. For Bautista, timing was indeed everything. From MLB.com:
Bautista said the success he had during the preseason dates back to last July, when he teamed with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy to break down the outfielder's swing. Bautista was getting started too late and sporadic playing time did nothing to help his timing at the plate. By September, circumstances led to regular starts and Bautista began to take off.
"I was getting ready so late," Bautista said. "Now, I feel like I can attack the ball in any count, and I'm on the offensive at all times and I'm not going up there to the plate trying to fight for my life."
Once perplexed by offspeed junk, Bautista has become one of the game's best slider smashers. Couple that improvement with the fly-ball hitter's selective-aggressive approach (27.3 K%, 12.6 BB%), and he should yield useful numbers. As long as he continues to find open pastures with runners on base, Edwin Encarnacion(notes), once healthy, won't be a threat. Believe in the power surge deep leaguers.
For the international traveler, it appears Canada may finally be home.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 450 at-bats, .246 BA, 19 HR, 68 RBI, 60 R, 7 SB
Quality commodity owned in fewer than 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Ooh Stream Weaver...
Widely available plug n' play starter heading into the weekend.
Middle Relief Magic
ERA/WHIP savior, potential saves/wins vulture.
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