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The Arbitrary End Points Game

Yup, today we're going to play one of my favorite games. Ever heard of the term "regression to the mean" on this site before? Because today, we're throwing caution to the wind; regression doesn't get to play fun police and ruin all of the crazy, unsustainable numbers that I'm going to throw out there today.

No, because today, we're playing the Arbitrary End Points Game! Yes, you heard right. In this post, I'm going to toss out some random periods of time, ranging from a few weeks to a full year, for a variety of players to show you how remarkably good or remarkably bad a player can be when you're limiting your sample size based on randomly chosen dates and events.

And in honor of the ridiculousness that has been Jose Bautista's evolution over the past year, we'll begin with a particularly fun set of arbitrary end points: Bautista's past 162 games.

Jose Bautista - May 11, 2010 Through May 18, 2011

694 PA - .294/.425/.697 with 33 doubles, 3 triples, 63 homers - 118 walks, 102 strikeouts

Need more proof that Bautista isn't a fluke? Because frankly, anyone who thinks that is really, really running out of reasonable ammunition. Getting hot for a few months is conceivable. But hitting 63 homers with a .425 OBP and more walks than strikeouts over the course of the past year? This guy is firmly among the elite players in the game now, and Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos should be lauded for recognizing Bautista's sustainable improvement and signing him long-term.

Brad Hawpe - April 25, 2011 Through May 18, 2011

75 PA - .353/.413/.529 with 24 hits, 6 doubles, 2 homers - 6 walks, 16 strikeouts

This season has truly been a Tale of Two Hawpes (rolls right off the tongue, right?). On April 24, Hawpe's batting line was a miserable .098/.145/.118, and you had to imagine that the Padres would mention him soon considering that he was their first baseman. But the very next day, Hawpe's bat finally awoke from its slumber, and he's boosted his line to a more respectable (but still pretty awful) .244/.300/.353 this season. In Hawpe's first 55 PA's, he had 5 hits, 1 extra-base hit and 22 strikeouts. Over his next 75 PA's, he's had 24 hits, 8 extra-base hits and just 16 strikeouts.

Jhonny Peralta - May 6, 2011 Through May 18, 2011

38 PA - .424/.500/.939 with 14 hits, 2 doubles, 5 homers - 4 walks, 6 strikeouts

It was easy to wonder why the Tigers viewed Peralta as a legitimate starting-quality shortstop coming into the season. And while it's still fair to be skeptical about the former Indian's glove, Peralta is showing that he's still got some serious pop in his bat. An 0-for-3 performance last night broke up a nine-game hitting streak, during which Peralta had five multi-hit games and five home runs. Over the course of nine days, Peralta raised his OPS from .679 to .867.

Carlos Quentin - April 29, 2011 Through May 18, 2011

68 PA - .150/.235/.283 with 9 hits, 2 doubles and 2 homers - 6 walks, 10 strikeouts

Remember when Quentin was among the game's hitting leaders a couple weeks ago? Well, this is where he's gone since then. Joining in the general suckitude of rest of Chicago's lineup, Quentin's proceeded to watch his BABIP plummet along with his overall effectiveness in the past three weeks. And things could be even worse: take out Quentin's exceptional three-hit game from May 9, and his line over the past three weeks drops to .107/.186/.161.

Adam Jones - April 19, 2011 Through May 18, 2011

113 PA - .327/.397/.495 with 33 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triples, 3 homers - 11 walks, 16 strikeouts

People keep waiting for the 25-year-old Jones to break out; it's just hard to tell if Jones is finally making some strides or if he's simply going through one of his hotter periods at the moment. On April 19, Jones' OPS sat at .542; it's been in the .780 range for the past week or so. The most optimistic part of this whole scenario is the apparent improvement in Jones' batting eye, though. He had nearly as many walks, intentional walks and hit-by-pitches (15) as he did strikeouts (16) over the past month.