When Jose Bautista broke onto the scene in 2010 with a Godzilla-like 54 home runs—a far cry from the 16, 15, 15, and 13 that he hit in the four previous seasons, respectively—he immediately graduated into the class of baseball's elite power hitters. That designation, of course, is well deserved: since 2010, he has posted a 14.90 PA/HR, the best in the MLB for qualified batters between 2010 and 2013 by a long shot, with Giancarlo Stanton in second place at 17.11 PA/HR.
But, while his power is what he's become known for, it's not his only attribute that hovers in the league's upper echelon; Bautista's plate discipline is just as impressive as his gaudy power.
To display just how patient Bautista is at the plate, here are his walk percentages from 2010 to 2013, accompanied by where those percentages ranked among qualified hitters each year:
*In 2012, he didn't reach the qualified number of plate appearances, but his 14.8% BB% would have ranked him fourth.
The outlier—and the most jaw-dropping stat—here is his 20.2% BB% in 2011. Of all hitters since 1973, Bautista's 20.2% BB% is tied for 27th best in a single season. Let me repeat: in the last forty—yes, forty—years, Jose Bautista's 20.2% BB% is the 27th best out of every qualified hitter in the Major Leagues. If you take out the God of Walks, also known as Barry Bonds, Bautista's 20.2% BB% jumps to the 20th best in a single season in that time span.
So, in addition to bashing home runs at a league-best rate, he's also drawing walks better than almost anyone year-over-year, and occasionally doing it at an historically significant rate. Impressive, right?
Just for fun—and because I know you're likely curious—take a guess at Bautista's BB% through 51 plate appearances in 2014. Ready? It's a ridiculous 31.4%, which towers over second place Jed Lowrie's 26.5%. It's a small sample size, of course, and it will certainly regress, but his ability to see the strike zone is remarkable.
Now, to put the impact that Bautista's hefty walk percentage has on his overall offensive production into some perspective. From 2010 to 2013, Bautista's .390 OBP ranks eighth out of all qualified hitters. Of the seven players above him, five have a batting average at .300 or higher and the other two are just a hair behind:
Of course, it's not surprising to see that players with high on base percentages have high batting averages. But, Bautista is the exception to the rule. His average over that time period is just .268. In fact, Bautista and Lance Berkman are the only players over that time span with a batting average under .270 and an OBP above .370. Ah, the power of taking walks.
If you want to think of Jose Bautista as a power hitter, by all means, be my guest. But to think of him as only a power hitter would be a true disservice to what he does almost every time he steps to the plate.
. . .
All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.