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Sunday, February 23, 2014

2014 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: JOSE BAUTISTA OUTFIELDER TORONTO BLUE JAYS

                                                          José Bautista

It would be a gross understatement if one were to say that we are now firmly in the era of pitching dominance in fantasy baseball and that the post-steroids period has also helped in the virtual elimination of big time home runs hitters.  Thus the few remaining pure sluggers in today's game who are capable of hitting even over 30 home runs are becoming a very valued and rare commodity whose drat prices are going up every season.  Perhaps the best home run hitter over the last four seasons has been Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista who home run output during that period has resulted in totals of 54, 43, 27, and 28.  Clearly Bautista is as good as it gets when it comes to popping baseballs over outfield walls and his draft price once again is significant despite some blaring red flags attached to his game.  Summing it all up, Bautista represents some sizable risk for 2014 fantasy baseball and in my view stands as a decent bust candidate one might want to avoid.  Let's break it down without further delay.

In looking at Bautista's home run totals over the last four seasons, it is obvious to see that the numbers have taken a big dip from 2011 to the last two years.  The biggest reason for this and the first aspect of why Bautista is a bust candidate is due to the fact that injuries are now becoming a major part of his fantasy baseball equation.  Each of the last two seasons has been Bautista fail to make it to the end of the year and his at-bats totals during those two campaigns have been only 332 and 452.  Now 34 years old, the threat of more injuries grows as Bautista continues to age. 

Bautista's age is not the only red flag that we have to worry about when it comes to making an investment in his bat this season.  His home run rate is also on the decline which is a major problem since most of Bautista's value lies in that stat.  From 2010-2012 Bautista's home run rate was once ever 11.4 at-bats.  That number dropped to 16.14 which could be another indication there is some decline at work.  Clearly expecting Bautista to return to his 40-plus home run ways are a huge mistake and it is likely those levels of power output are gone for good.  In addition Bautista has hit the skids in the batting average department the last two season as he has hit only .241 and .259 during that span. 

When you put it all together, the Jose Bautista stock is looking like a major sell.  The home runs are likely going to continue to be solid and could very well approach 30 which is nothing to sneeze at.  However Bautista is a big negative in steals and very mediocre in average which means he is now only a 2.5 category guy with pluses in home runs and RBI and decent in runs.  Throw in the injury threat and Bautista is not worth his current fourth round price.  Once again you always have to look past a former stud hitter's past so as not to muddle his present level.  Loyalists to Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have found that out the hard way the last two seasons which no doubt hurt those rosters.  Bautista could very well join that ugly grouping this season if we are not careful.

2014 PROJECTION:  .258 28 HR 95 RBI 81 R 2 SB

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