(Title is in reference to this song, which you should really listen to.)
So the NL MVP was rather unpredictable, but at least Aubrey Huff had a history of success, even if it was on crappy teams and coming off a bad 2009. As for our AL MVP, Jose Bautista? He was drafted by the Pirates in the 20th round of the 2000 draft, then picked up in the Rule 5 draft three and a half years later by the Orioles. In the middle of the 2004 season, he was picked up by the then-Devil Rays off waivers from the Orioles, then bought by the Royals, then traded to the Mets, then traded to the Pirates (oh, and the trades to the Mets and Pirates happened on the same day).
Bautista spent his time in Pittsburgh – parts of 2004, 2005, and 2008, and all of 2006 and 2007 – putting up a lackluster line of .241/.329/.403, 91 OPS+. Halfway through the 2008 season, he was struggling so badly that he lost his starting job – and may I remind you, this was ON THE PIRATES!!!! He was optioned to Triple-A and traded to the Blue Jays for the immortal Robinzon Diaz, who was DFAd by Pittsburgh after 2009.
In his first full year with Toronto in 2009, Bautista hit .235/.349/.408/.757, more or less exactly league average (99 OPS+). Those numbers were largely boosted by a September where he hit 10 home runs – he hit 13 home runs all year – and slugged over .600. That was following an August where he hit just .165/.318/.185/.503. After 2009, with 2038 plate appearances to his name, Bautista had 59 career home runs.
Bautista had 54 home runs in 2010 alone, to lead all of baseball. His 351 total bases also led baseball. He slugged .617, drew over 100 walks, and OPSed just five points away from 1.000 in a down year for offense. He put up a 166 OPS+, .422 wOBA, and 169 wRC+. According to Fangraphs, throughout Bautista’s career, he’s been worth 8.7 WAR. 6.9 points of that is from 2010. On Baseball Reference, it’s 5.9 career WAR and 5.6 from just 2010 (!!!!!). That 5.6 WAR was good for a top ten finish in the AL, tied with Joe Mauer and ahead of players like Carl Crawford and Paul Konerko. He actually had the second-highest pure offensive WAR in the AL, next to only Miggy Cabrera, but was hurt in BB-Ref’s formula by what they judged to be very poor defense. His ISOP had never exceeded .185 in any given season, but in 2010, it was .357 – or, nine points greater than Babe Ruth’s career ISOP. In baseball history, there have only been 40 seasons of .350+ ISOP, and the last was in 2006 with Travis Hafner.
Granted, home run feats are no longer so insanely eye-popping, but run scoring was down around baseball a great deal in 2010 and what Bautista did was still pretty staggering. No player had hit fifty home runs since 2007, when Alex Rodriguez hit 54 (and Prince Fielder 50). Between the entire period from 1966 to 1989, only one player hit 50 home runs in a season. So while we may all be jaded after the crazy home run feats of 1998 and it’s not like Bautista is doing this in the deadball era, it’s still a pretty awesome feat. No one really knows where Bautista’s year came from, but we certainly enjoyed the heck out of it in 2010. Hopefully our poster boy in 2011 provides us with as much entertainment and general YCPB-ness.