For a guy who annually barely reached double digits in home runs, an offensive output award would seem as distant as the playoffs for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But Jose Bautista's break-out season with the Toronto Blue Jays this year won him the Hank Aaron Award, given for the top offensive performance in each league. Bautista's 54 home runs netted him the American League award. Joey Votto captured the National League honor.
How much has Bautista evolved? He entered this season just trying to secure a spot in the line-up. He left it as opposing pitchers' worst nightmare.
In 2008, he also put up 54 - but that was runs batted in. This year he hit 54 homers. His 124 RBIs this year doubled his run production for every single year, except 2007 when he knocked in 68 runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates. This year was also the first time since that Pittsburgh season that Bautista got more than 500 at-bats.
He only got 13 more hits this year than he did in 2007, but his power numbers skyrocketed. His total bases jumped from 220 in 2007 to 351 this year. But when you club 39 more home runs that you did in '07, your total bases might see a bit of an increase!
"Obviously, [it is] a great honor to receive this award," Bautista said on the Blue Jays' website. "Every time you get acknowledged and receive a consideration like this, you have to thank all the people that allow you to get to that position. That being said, my family and obviously all the voters, the fans, the panel of Hall of Famers, and Mr. Hank Aaron."
Bautista deserves the honor as he was amazing at the plate all season long, and keep the Blue Jays within striking distance in the always tough American League East for most of the season. Bautista may want to keep working on the award-recipient quotes as there are likely more off-season honors headed his way.