Jose Bautista is not clean-cut or especially likable. He’s got an attitude, he wears a black hat, and man does he wear it well. Good for him. Not every star should be polished or cute.
Over at SI.com, Joe Sheehan explains why Bautista is anything but a one-year wonder:
Bautista isn’t Bonds. He’s Joe Hardy. He’s Roy Hobbs. He’s come out of, if not nowhere, a shadowy past we don’t completely understand — “the Pirates,” as they’re known — to do something completely unprecedented in baseball history. Players have made leaps before, as the great sluggers of the 1990s did. Players have come into the league and played at Bautista’s level, as Thomas and Albert Pujols did. Players have even had one completely insane season, like Bautista’s 2010, then regressed to a lower level of performance.
For someone to be a non-entity through six seasons and 2,000 plate appearances, then become the most dangerous hitter in baseball? We have no precedent for that, which is why I spent the winter — from November in Phoenix to March in print — insisting that he couldn’t repeat his ’10 season. This is watching Babe Ruth throw a shutout in 1918 and knowing he’d become the all-time leading home-run hitter, or watching the Boston Braves get swept in a July 4 doubleheader and seeing the 1914 world championship team forming. Jose Bautista couldn’t have gotten arrested two years ago, and now he’s the biggest story in baseball. Forget analysis, breakdowns, your favorite team, your fantasy team, who said what about whom back in January. When Jose Bautista comes to the plate, people stop and they watch. He’s making the 2011 season for baseball fans.