Bautista heating up after slow start to year

Bautista heating up after slow start to year

Bautista heating up after slow start to year
TORONTO -- Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista looks to be putting his slow start behind him, which can only mean good things for his ballclub, as manager John Farrell sees it.

"I think, and not to put so much weight on Jose, but I think when all of us in the dugout see him take borderline pitches, not expand the strike zone, hit with the confidence that he's hitting with, I think it naturally sends a calming effect to everyone in the lineup," Farrell said. "I feel like in the last 7-10 games, that has been there more consistently."

The All-Star outfielder has homered in five of his past seven games and entered Friday ranked tied for sixth in the American League with 10 on the season. Bautista has hit seven of those home runs in May and has slugged .632 in the month after posting a mark of just .313 in April.

Farrell attributed a lot of the struggles Bautista had to timing and was adamant that his right fielder was going to come around sooner than later. There may be more than just timing issues, however, that have plagued the two-time defending home run champion this season.

Bautista's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was the second lowest in the Major Leagues at .178 entering Friday, which could explain why his on-base percentage was just .329, despite being among the league leaders in walks. As Farrell noted, Bautista has had plenty of at-bats where he was perhaps a little unlucky by hitting the ball hard, but right at a defender. The league average BABIP is around .300.

His line-drive percentage of 16.2 percent is above his career mark and higher than what it has been in each of the past two seasons, proving that he has made solid contact despite having a .207 batting average. When the hits start falling, which they should, Bautista should expect a rise in his OBP.

"There have been some of those mixed in, but we're 140 at-bats into the season, and I'm sure there were stretches last year for a period of time where the numbers might be reflective or similar to where they are now, so I'm not overly concerned by it," Farrell said when asked whether he felt Bautista has been unlucky.