José Antonio Bautista (born October 19, 1980) is a Dominican professional baseball right fielder for the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball. He has major league experience at six different positions, because of his role as a utility player earlier in his career.
Bautista was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of the 2000 First Year Player Draft. After spending three seasons in the minor leagues, Bautista made his major league debut with the Baltimore Orioles in 2004. He spent the rest of the season with five MLB organizations, returning finally to the Pirates. He played with the Pirates for parts of five seasons where he struggled to perform at a high level, and eventually found himself traded to the Blue Jays on August 21, 2008. Beginning in September 2009, and over the next two seasons, Bautista would emerge as one of the best players in the major leagues.
In the 2010 season, Bautista became the 26th member of the 50 home run club. He led the major leagues in home runs in 2010 and 2011. He has won two Hank Aaron Awards and two Silver Slugger Awards, and has appeared in four MLB All-Star Games. He has been named the American League Player of the Week three times and has been the Player of the Month on five different occasions.
Bautista attended De La Salle High School in Santo Domingo, and Chipola College, a junior college in Marianna, Florida. The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted him in the 20th round of the 2000 Major League Baseball Draft.
After playing in minor league baseball for the Pirates through 2003, the Baltimore Orioles selected Bautista in the Rule 5 Draft, and carried him on their Opening Day roster. He made his MLB debut with Baltimore on April 4, 2004. He was claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on June 3, then purchased by the Kansas City Royals on June 28. He was then traded to the New York Mets on July 30 for Justin Huber, and without playing a game for New York, was traded back to Pittsburgh with Ty Wigginton and minor leaguer Matt Peterson for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger. This made him the first and only player to be on five different Major League rosters in one season.
Bautista played in 11 games for the Pirates in 2005. In 2006, his first full season with the Pirates, Bautista hit .235 with 16 home runs and 51 runs batted in (RBIs). The following season in 2007, he posted similar numbers in 142 games, finishing the season with a batting average of .254, 15 home runs and 63 RBIs. That same year, he became the starting third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He took over for National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez, who moved to second base.
Bautista was to be the Pirates' starting third baseman and backup outfielder in 2008. From June 14 to 24, Bautista hit five home runs in a span of 9 games against interleague opponents Baltimore, Chicago White Sox, Toronto, and the New York Yankees. However, Bautista struggled offensively for most of the year, and after the 2008 trade deadline Bautista lost his starting job to the newly acquired Andy LaRoche. He was optioned to Triple-A (Indianapolis Indians) on August 13. After performing well in Triple-A, on August 21, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for a player to be named later (Robinzon Diaz).
Bautista started the 2009 season on the bench, backing up third baseman Scott Rolen and outfielders Alex Ríos and Adam Lind. When Rios was claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox and Lind was assigned the role of designated hitter, Bautista's playing time increased, becoming the leadoff hitter after an injury to Marco Scutaro. Bautista finished the 2009 season with 13 HR (10 of which came in the month of September), 40 RBI, a batting average of .235, and 79 hits in 113 games. Originally considered to be a non-tender candidate, he re-signed with the Blue Jays on a one-year $2.4 million US contract for the 2010 season.
Bautista began the 2010 campaign as the starting right fielder and leadoff hitter. On May 17, Bautista was named AL Player of the Week after hitting .444 (8-for-18) with 20 total bases, four home runs, eight RBI, eight runs scored, a .565 OBP, and an MLB-best 1.111 SLG. Bautista hit his 20th home run as part of a 2-HR night against the St. Louis Cardinals on June 22, setting a new career high for a single season in just two months.
For the month of July, Bautista batted .347, with 11 home runs, 29 RBI, and an AL-leading .765 slugging percentage, sharing American League Player of the Month honors with Twins outfielder Delmon Young. Bautista was also named Blue Jays' Player of the Month, which is selected through voting by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. With his 12 home runs in May and 11 in July, Bautista became only the third Blue Jay player in franchise history to have two months with at least 10 home runs.
Bautista was named co-winner of the American League Player of the Week award for the period ending August 1. Bautista hit .545 with five homers and 13 RBIs during that span. On August 26, Bautista hit his 100th career home run against the Detroit Tigers. Bautista was again named player of the week for the week ending August 29; in seven games that week, Bautista led the American League with a .500 batting average (10-for-20) and hit four home runs. Bautista became the only Blue Jays player to ever win the award three times in one season. Bautista won AL Player of the Month for the month of August, in which he hit he led the AL in home runs (12), RBI (24), slugging percentage (.724) and total bases (72), while tying for the lead in extra-base hits (18). He finished tied for second with 23 runs and was third with 23 walks. He also won the Honda Player of the Month Award, his second such award in as many months.
On September 17, Bautista set the new Blue Jays single-season home run record with his 48th home run, breaking the record set by George Bell. On September 23, Bautista became the 26th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 50-home run mark in a season. His 52nd home run set a new MLB record for the largest single-season increase in home runs, eclipsing Davey Johnson's 38 home run increase from 1972 to 1973. Bautista finished the 2010 season with an MLB-leading 54 home runs, the highest total since Alex Rodriguez hit 54 in 2007. Bautista won the AL Hank Aaron Award and a Silver Slugger Award for his offensive performance. Bautista finished fourth in the AL MVP voting, behind Hamilton, Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Canó. The Toronto chapter of the BBWAA named Bautista the Blue Jays' Most Valuable Player, the Blue Jays' Most Improved Player, and presented him the John Cerutti Award for displaying "goodwill, cooperation and character".
Bautista agreed to a five-year contract extension worth US$64 million before the 2011 season. Bautista began the season as the starting right fielder for the Blue Jays, with Edwin Encarnacion playing third base. Bautista walked 28 times in the month of April, breaking a club record that was set when Carlos Delgado collected 26 bases on balls in April 2001. Bautista was unanimously selected for the Blue Jays' Player of the Month award, and was also named the AL Player of the Month for the month of April (his third such award in four months, dating back to the 2010 season).
On May 15, Bautista hit 3 home runs against the Minnesota Twins, the first 3 home run game of his career. On May 28, in a home game against the Chicago White Sox, Bautista hit his 20th home run, a 3 run shot to left field, becoming the first player to reach 20 home runs in 2011 as well as the fastest player to reach 20 home runs (44 games) in Blue Jays franchise history. Bautista won the AL Player of the Month award for May, his fourth such award in five months. He also became the first player to have the highest number of home runs in a single month for five consecutive months since Jimmie Foxx did so from June 1933 to April 1934. Bautista also won the Blue Jays' Player of the Month award for the second consecutive month. On June 23, the Blue Jays shifted Bautista to third base and recalled Eric Thames to play the outfield.
Bautista was selected for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, receiving a record 7,454,753 votes. At the time of his selection, he led the MLB in home runs (26), walks (70), OBP (.471), slugging percentage (.679), OPS (1.150), times on base (160) and was also in second place for runs scored (64), total bases (182) and extra base hits (41). Bautista became the first Blue Jay in history to lead the league in All-Star voting. He was also the first Blue Jay to be voted into the All-Star game as a starter since Carlos Delgado in 2003. Bautista participated in the Home Run Derby; he hit 4 home runs and was eliminated in the first round.
On August 5, with the debut of prospect Brett Lawrie to play third base, Bautista returned to right field. In a game against the Oakland Athletics on August 20, Bautista walked three times, which brought his season total to 102 walks in 113 games, the fastest a player reached 100 walks since Barry Bonds in 2007. During a game against the New York Yankees on September 5, Bautista hit his 40th home run of the season, a solo homer off reliever Rafael Soriano. He became the 2nd player in Blue Jays history to have back to back 40 home run seasons. Two games later on September 7, against the Boston Red Sox, Bautista stole home plate on a double steal in which rookie teammate Brett Lawrie took second base, becoming the first 40 home run hitter to steal home plate since Adam Dunn in 2004. Bautista finished the season with 132 walks, the most in the AL since Jason Giambi walked 137 times in 2000, setting a new Blue Jays franchise record, previously held by Carlos Delgado (with 123 walks in 2000).
Bautista led the major leagues in home runs for the second consecutive season with 43, becoming the first player to lead in consecutive years since Mark McGwire in 1998 and 1999. He also led the majors in slugging percentage (.608), OPS (1.056) and walks (132), and led the AL in intentional walks (24). He came in second in OBP (.447) behind Miguel Cabrera. He was named the American League winner of the Hank Aaron Award for the second consecutive season, becoming just the third player in the award's history, after Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds, to win the award in back-to-back years. Bautista was awarded his second consecutive Silver Slugger Award.
On January 30, Bautista was announced as the cover athlete for the Canadian edition of MLB 12: The Show. In an interleague game against the Milwaukee Brewers on June 19, Bautista hit the second of three straight solo home runs by the Blue Jays, between Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion, the first time since 2005 that the Jays went back-to-back-to-back with home runs. Bautista also took over the MLB lead in home runs for 2012, hitting his 25th on June 27 against the Boston Red Sox, which broke the Blue Jays club record for home runs in a month, with 13. He went on to finish the month with 14 home runs, one short of the American League record for June.
Bautista was voted an American League starter in the MLB All-Star Game for a second consecutive year. It was his third overall selection and second as a starter. Hamilton surpassed Bautista's record vote total of the prior year. On July 2, Bautista was named American League Player of the Month for June. It was his fifth time receiving the honor in his career. He batted .274 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI in the month of June. His 14 home runs in June set a new Blue Jays franchise record for home runs in a month. Bautista competed in the 2012 Home Run Derby. At the time of his selection, Bautista led all major league players with 26 home runs. Bautista finished second to Prince Fielder.
Bautista was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 17 with inflammation in his wrist. Bautista had started in all previous 90 games. With Bautista's injury, the Blue Jays called up prospect Anthony Gose to the major leagues. Bautista was activated on August 24, but was returned to the disabled list on August 26 after he re-aggavated the injury to his left wrist. On August 28, the Jays announced that Bautista would undergo season-ending surgery on the wrist.
On January 21, it was announced that Bautista would once again be the cover athlete of the Canadian edition of MLB 13: The Show. Bautista hit his 200th career home run in a game against the Boston Red Sox on June 29. On July 6, 2013, Bautista was elected to his fourth consecutive All-Star Game as the starting right fielder for the American League. Up to the All-Star Break, Bautista posted a triple-slash of .254/.351/.493 with 20 home runs and 55 RBI. In the All-Star Game, Bautista recorded the game-winning RBI on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning, as the American League won 3–0.
In a game against the Oakland Athletics on July 30, Bautista hit his 25th home run of the season. In doing so, he became the fourth player in Blue Jays franchise history to hit at least 25 home runs in four consecutive seasons, joining Carlos Delgado (1996–2004), Joe Carter (1991–1996), and George Bell (1984–1987). His season ended prematurely for the second consecutive time on September 4, when it was announced that he would be shutdown with a left hip bone bruise. Bautista finished 2013 with a .259 batting average, 28 home runs, and 73 RBIs.
Bautista's first daughter was born in April 2011. Bautista's second daughter Ava was born in November 2012.
- List of Major League Baseball home run champions
- List of Toronto Blue Jays team records
- List of top 300 Major League Baseball home run hitters
- 2010 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
- 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
- 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
- 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
- 2011 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby
- 2012 Major League Baseball Home Run Derby
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