Fans of Jose Bautista’s former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, would laugh at the idea. (Except for yours truly.)

But the former “tail-ender” now leads the Toronto Blue Jays in four out of five offensive categories, according to ESPN.

BA F. Lewis .290
HR J. Bautista 20
RBI J. Bautista 49
R J. Bautista 46
OPS J. Bautista .913

That’s not exactly what the Pirates would have expected when they traded him for “a player to be named later” (backup catcher Robinzon Diaz).

In only one regard, batting average, is Bautista a “tail-ender (.232). But that’s most of what’s “wrong” with him.

Here’s what’s right. Of his 56 hits (in 241 at-bats), 20 are home runs, the most in the majors. Some 16 more went for two or three bases. Almost two-thirds of his hits are NOT singles. He picks pitches he can hit HARD.

Bautista also has 50 “walks” (counting both bases on balls and hit by pitches), almost as many as hits—which is mostly how he gets on first base. That’s also a testament to his “good eye.”

Which is why his on-base percentage (OBP), .357, is some 125 points higher than his batting average (the difference is only half that for an average player). He’s also tops in OPS, which measures both OBP and slugging.

As a fielder, Bautista is no great shakes. But he is very versatile insofar as he can play any one of the four “corner” positions, left and right field and third and first base. An All-Star team could put him, and his big bat, in any one of those slots.

Last year, Toronto was hoping that left fielder Travis Snider would be a big home run hitter. He is a promising player who is still young, has a way to go, and might eventually fulfill his early promise.

But the Blue Jays got their power hitter with the OTHER platoon left fielder, Bautista. Who is in the “here and now.” After having matured into an everyday player. Which is why Toronto’s platoon system is a good one.

Bautista is kind of a “Cinderella” story. But that story might be one of the Blue Jays if they trade for more players like him.

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