Max Kellerman And The "Joey Bats Club": How Unique Is Jose Bautista?

Ok, Max Kellerman; you may be right about Jose Bautista.  His sudden power surge does seem to have PED written all over it, but I don’t want to accuse him of cheating… yet.  In order to assess the uniqueness of Jose’s surge, I tried to find other players who had power jumps similar to his.  Between 1960 and 2006, only 5 players met the criteria.  The following criteria are based on Jose’s career characteristics
To be included in the Joey Bats Club, the player must have:

At least a 150 point increase in Isolated Power from one season to the next…

At least 300 plate appearances in each of those two seasons…

At least 2000 plate appearances before the power surge season…

Additionally, the power surge season can’t be a return to previous high level of performance.  (This criterion is more subjective than the others, but maybe the most important!) A player with a 2011 Lance Berkman-like improvement would not make the club.

The table below shows the “Joey Bats Club”.

Table Notables:

Bob Bailey, Brady Anderson, and John Lowenstein seem to be the most analogous to Jose Bautista, their power surges came with no obvious reasons for the change.

Bob Bailey’s Isolated Power more than doubled to .310 from 1969 to 1970.  I wasn’t around in 1970, so I wonder what baseball writers were saying about him that season.  I guess I will have to go to microfilms find out.

Davey Johnson went from 5 homeruns in 1972 to 43 homeruns in 1973.  That alone should raise suspicion.  Yes, he did go from Baltimore to hitter friendly Atlanta, but his OPS+, which is adjusted for park factors and is relative to the league, grew from 93 to 143.  One caveat:  his 143 OPS+ is not much greater his OPS+ of 125 in 1971.

Bobby Grich barely made the club; in 1979 his isolated power grew from .078 to .243, but 1978 was his worst power season.  So 1979 was partially a bounce-back season, but mostly a true power surge.

In 1982, John Lowenstein’s OPS+ was 176, which was 77 points above his career average to that point. He is similar to Bob Bailey, in that I wonder what the writers were saying about him during the 1982 season.

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