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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Is Jose Bautista A Safe Bet?

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Even though he tied for the 19th highest single season home run total in history Jose Bautista is going in the mid rounds of many drafts after Longoria, Wright, Arod, and Zimmerman are taken and sometimes around the same time as Adrian Beltre. Skeptics point to his history of low home runs totals and Brady Anderson. Yes it is a possibility he returns to his 16 HR days but it's also possible the towering home runs are here to stay.

Bautista has hit 10 or more home runs in 5 of the last 7 months including 3 in a row to end the year. If pitchers were catching on they sure weren't showing it. With that kind of consistency it's hard to imagine he won't have at least one 10 HR month in 2011. One good month won't be enough to make him a star again but even if he were to have two 10 HR months and the rest were his lowest monthly total from 2010 (which is 4) he would hit 36 HR. Considering he hit 30 after the break he should be able to reach that total.

As much as people want to say he was powerless before 2010 he did have 53 extra base hits in 2007 so it's not like he can't put a sting into a ball. Before his breakout I remember noticing how good an eye he has and I believe that is a major reason for his massive season last year. The Jays coaching staff realized this as well. With such good pitch recognition skills they figured if he were to start his hands earlier he would get a jump on the ball and unleash everything into it. Bautista's 2010 is a lesson in the power of confidence as he knew he could spot a strike and he knew he could hurt the ball.

The Jays look to have their own version of Carlos Pena who also made a surprising leap into the game's power elite and shows above average patience. Jose strikes out much less than Pena so his AVG should be more stable. Bautista should be able to put up similar to what Pena has done since his 46 HR outburst but is less likely to hit below the Mendoza line as he has much much better contact skills. There is a chance he has less power than Pena as the new Cubs first baseman had a bit better power profile before his breakout. The difference is Pena is a first baseman and Bautista is a third baseman/ outfielder.

Is he a safe bet? Absolutely not. Good luck winning your league spending an early pick on him if he hits 18 HR but Jose Bautista isn't going to forget how to hit the ball hard and he isn't going to stop seeing the ball well. For those reasons I believe he is a good bet for .250 AVG 35 HR 100 RBI. In a 3B class that has a number of question marks he is the biggest but his upside makes it worth the risk when you factor in OF eligibility. The uncertainty surrounding him should keep his price in check so you shouldn't have to pay TOO much to find out if he has an encore in him. Just beware of the total bust possibility.