In a season that saw Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run and has Aaron Judge on the doorstep of breaking history, 2022 has been a fun one for home-run fanatics.
We should celebrate these players for their momentous milestones, but lost in the shuffle along the way are some other home run feats which maybe don’t get the respect they deserve.
But Jose Bautista’s epic 2010 campaign is like a wine fine; it’s only gotten better with age. His franchise record-setting 54 home run season is a number that a Blue Jays hitter might never break again.
Joey Bats was the Judge equivalent of the 2010 and 2011 MLB seasons. He won consecutive home run titles with his 54 long balls in 2010, followed by 43 home runs in 2011. For a five-year stretch, Bautista was one of the most feared hitters in baseball.
Historically, his 54 home runs in 2010 are the 10th most in American League history. Bautista smashed the previous Blue Jays franchise record of George Bell’s 47 home run campaign set in 1987.
The way Bautista went about his signature season was remarkable. The Blue Jays brought him aboard in 2008 as third base insurance for their injured infielder Scott Rolen. Bautista finished out the season and broke camp with the team out of spring training in 2009.
But it was a September surge which caught the eye of some within the organization, as he exploded to hit 10 home runs in 30 games for the Blue Jays. Until September, Bautista had three home runs in his previous 83 games.
He worked with hitting coach Dwayne Murphy and manager Cito Gaston to get his timing down, and it proved to be a career-altering move for the Blue Jays slugger. He unlocked a hidden power core nobody saw coming.
Bautista tore through opposing hitters throughout 2010, but he got off to a slow start that year, tallying just four home runs in 24 games. But by the time the calendar flipped to May, he tapped into that power source and muscled 12 home runs.
By the time he reached the All-Star break, Bautista had 24 home runs to his name. Although he wasn’t voted in as the starting right fielder, he made it into the game as a reserve for the American League team.
Bautista didn’t take part in the Home Run Derby event, he was about to put in his own derby in the second half of the season. While most sluggers slow their home run pace in the final 81 games, Bautista picked up his pace by hitting 30 homers in the second half.
Joey Bats broke the Blue Jays home run franchise record on September 17, 2010, in Fenway Park. Even after eclipsing Bell’s record, Bautista wasn’t done yet. He crossed by 50 homer threshold with a long fly off Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.