Jose Bautista‘s improbable rise to stardom in the Major Leagues is one of the best post-steroid era stories in baseball.

Recently Yahoo Sport’s Jeff Passan wrote a must-read piece (after you finish my article, of course) breaking down Bautista’s path to the Majors and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bautista has his doubters, for sure, that just can’t wrap their mind around the notion that a player who had never hit more than 16 homers in any season in his career could jump to 54 in a single season without the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Bautista explains, and Passan eloquently describes, that he was unable to make the necessary adjustments to become the hitter he is now because any decrease in productivity would have jeopardized his career.

Thus, he went through five teams before finding the stability he needed in Toronto. A team that would work with him and allow him to make the adjustments while remaining an everyday player.

As the results began racking up with each ball knocked over the fence, Bautista’s confidence grew, and he was able to unload on pitcher after pitcher on his way to his first home run crown in 2010.

The encore performance is underway, and so far he is on a run that could windup placing him amongst the greats of the game, clean and not steroid-tainted.

Passan writes:

“What he did remains inconceivable: evolve from a nobody, a piece cast off by the sport’s dregs, into the most dangerous hitter on the planet. He hit 54 home runs last year when no one else hit 40, and he followed up this season with the best two-month stretch since Barry Bonds.”

The stretch Passan is referencing by Bonds was his 2001-2002 season in which he had a combined total of 119 homers. The two-year span by Bonds ranks fifth on the all-time list of two-season homer totals.

Eight out of the top ten two-season home run totals are owned by players with ties to steroids, including Bonds’ run.

Mark McGwire ranks first with 135 homers between the 1998-1999 seasons.

The two top-10 performances by a player with no steroid implications? Babe Ruth in 1927-1928 with 114 homers, and Ruth again in 1920-1921 with 113 total homers.

The only modern-era player with such a stretch and no steroid implications is Ken Griffey, Jr. Griffey currently has the eleventh best two-year string of success with 112 homers in 1997-1998. Griffey also topped the 100-homer mark for two-year spans in 1996-1997 and 1998-1999 with 105 and 104 homers, respectively, during those spans.

Bautista currently has 75 homers with 92 games remaining in the season. If he continues on his current pace he would wind up with 48 homers according to ESPN. The combined totals would give him 102 for the 2010-2011 combined seasons, good enough for the 19th best two-season total in history, seventh best among players with no steroid connection.

Pre-steroid use, depending on when you believe that was, Mark McGwire never achieved 100 homers in two seasons. Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds only reached those totals during the years they allegedly were on the juice as well.

It is worth noting that today’s greatest power hitters, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard, have never accomplished this feat.

Future Hall of Famer, Jim Thome, has only reached the 100-HR-over-two-seasons plateau once in his career, between 2001-2002 (101 homers).

Bautista’s rise to stardom already has all the makings of a feel-good Disney movie with a happy ending and a lesson to be learned about determination and never giving up on your dream.

His present day accomplishments, though, have the makings of history written all over them.


Players With 100-Hr 2-Season Totals
Jose Bautista 2010 54 2011 ?? ??  
Player Year HR Year HR Total
Mark McGwire 1998 70 1999 65 135 *
Sammy Sosa 1998 66 1999 63 129 *
Mark McGwire 1997 58 1998 70 128 *
Barry Bonds 2000 49 2001 73 122 *
Barry Bonds 2001 73 2002 46 119 *
Babe Ruth 1927 60 1928 54 114  
Sammy Sosa 2000 50 2001 64 114 *
Babe Ruth 1920 54 1921 59 113
Sammy Sosa 1999 63 2000 50 113 *
Sammy Sosa 2001 64 2002 49 113 *
Ken Griffey Jr 1997 56 1998 56 112
Mark McGwire 1996 52 1997 58 110 *
Alex Rodriguez 2001 52 2002 57 109 *
Babe Ruth 1926 47 1927 60 107
Jimmie Foxx 1932 58 1933 48 106
Ken Griffey Jr 1996 49 1997 56 105
Ken Griffey Jr 1998 56 1999 48 104
Alex Rodriguez 2002 57 2003 47 104 *
Sammy Sosa 1997 36 1998 66 102 *
Ralph Kiner 1949 54 1950 47 101
Jim Thome 2001 49 2002 52 101
Babe Ruth 1928 54 1929 46 100
Roger Maris 1960 39 1961 61 100
* Player implicated as steroid user  


Brandon McClintock covers Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter:        @BMcClintock_BR.

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