The Commish Online www.thecommishonline.com
BLOG ARCHIVE: 09/01/10 - 09/30/10
Jose Bautista just eclipsed the 50 HR plateau today in a 1-0 win over Seattle. In the same game, Ichiro got his 200th hit, making it TEN straight seasons with that accomplishment. In Ichiro's case, we have come to expect the consistency and performance, but Bautista's power display came from nowhere.
13, 15, 15, and 16 were Bautista's HR totals in the past four years, and in 2010, Jose has well more than his past three seasons combined. Naturally, the dreaded "steroids" issue is raised whenever a slugger goes from "zero to hero," but in Bautista's case, there is a specific event late last season when he made a conscious choice to change his stance, starting the swing a little earlier. The result? 10 HRs last September and 50 more this season. They always say the game is about adjustments, and Bautista made a career changing one.
Several times over the years, on this very site, I've mentioned how much I hate it when people dismiss the importance of April victories and stress September wins. A future Hot Corner will study the correlation between September success and a World Series title.
In the meantime, it's important to note that despite a recent 7-game win streak, the White Sox are still 4.5 games behind Minnesota. Why? At the end of April, Minnesota held a 6 game lead on Chicago. April matters!
Conversely, the Padres just suffered through a 10-game losing streak but still find themselves in first place in the competitive NL West. Why? They finished April at 15-8, tied for best in the NL. April matters!
Meanwhile, the Braves have the best record in the NL after April at 70-46 but a recent mini-slump knocked Atlanta out of first place. Why? A division worst 9-14 record to start the season. April matters!
A win on April 15 counts the same as a win on September 15. In fact, a win early in the season may give opponents the view (real or not) that your team is competitive and capable of winning. This seemed to have happened to San Diego this year. Written off for dead before the first bird of spring chirped, the Padres won early and often. Whether the early wins were simply a result of an underappreciated team achieving results or a random blip that gave a team additional confidence to overachieve for many months afterward, the results are real. Taking advantage of early season success has enabled San Diego and others to withstand some late lulls and potentially still play meaningful baseball in October.