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
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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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Click Here for chart explanation.



Lee Mazzilli: No Evidence of Steroid or PED Use. (Click Image to Enlarge)

He had a good early career, but tapered off later on because of back and elbow injuries.

For an explanation of the graph click HERE

Will Clark: A Nice Career With No Evidence of PED Use. (Click Image to Enlarge)



Injuries caused his production to decline rapidly, but he was still a productive player.

A great way to detect an abnormal career progression; it uses OPS+ as a proxy to measure overall batting skill.  Relative OPS+ is measured by comparing 5-year periods of a player’s career.  For instance, when 32 is seen on the age axis it represents the player’s performance from age 28 through age 32, and age 33 represents ages 29 through 33 and so on.  The relative part is introduced when all of the player’s other 5-year periods are indexed to the player’s best 5-year period.  The best 5-year period equals 100 and the rest of the 5-year periods are measured accordingly.  The chart above  displays the career progression in which 80% of players fit.  A couple of things to remember when viewing the chart is that the area between the 10% lines is 80% of all players measured. Additionally, the player’s performance is compared to himself, so if Player A has an 85 rating at age  32 and Player B has an 89 rating at the same age, that does not necessarily mean that Player  B was a better player; it just means Player B closer to his peak than Player A. 



Dale Murphy: A Natural Career Curve, Just Held On About Two Years Too Long. (Click Image to Enlarge)

A great way to detect an abnormal career progression; it uses OPS+ as a proxy to measure overall batting skill.  Relative OPS+ is measured by comparing 5-year periods of a player’s career.  For instance, when 32 is seen on the age axis it represents the player’s performance from age 28 through age 32, and age 33 represents ages 29 through 33 and so on.  The relative part is introduced when all of the player’s other 5-year periods are indexed to the player’s best 5-year period.  The best 5-year period equals 100 and the rest of the 5-year periods are measured accordingly.  The chart above  displays the career progression in which 80% of players fit.  A couple of things to remember when viewing the chart is that the area between the 10% lines is 80% of all players measured. Additionally, the player’s performance is compared to himself, so if Player A has an 85 rating at age  32 and Player B has an 89 rating at the same age, that does not necessarily mean that Player  B was a better player; it just means Player B closer to his peak than Player A. 

Steve Finley: Circumstantial Evidence Points To Performance Enhancers. (Click Image to Enlarge)

That jump at ages 38 and 39, which is incredibly difficult to do, pretty much says it all for me.

A great way to detect an abnormal career progression; it uses OPS+ as a proxy to measure overall batting skill.  Relative OPS+ is measured by comparing 5-year periods of a player’s career.  For instance, when 32 is seen on the age axis it represents the player’s performance from age 28 through age 32, and age 33 represents ages 29 through 33 and so on.  The relative part is introduced when all of the player’s other 5-year periods are indexed to the player’s best 5-year period.  The best 5-year period equals 100 and the rest of the 5-year periods are measured accordingly.  The chart above  displays the career progression in which 80% of players fit.  A couple of things to remember when viewing the chart is that the area between the 10% lines is 80% of all players measured. Additionally, the player’s performance is compared to himself, so if Player A has an 85 rating at age  32 and Player B has an 89 rating at the same age, that does not necessarily mean that Player  B was a better player; it just means Player B closer to his peak than Player A. 

Benito Santiago: This Guy Was On Something! (Click Image to Enlarge)



He peaked at 33, bottomed out at 36, and peaked again at 40, all while being an everyday catcher!



A great way to detect an abnormal career progression; it uses OPS+ as a proxy to measure overall batting skill.  Relative OPS+ is measured by comparing 5-year periods of a player’s career.  For instance, when 32 is seen on the age axis it represents the player’s
performance from age 28 through age 32, and age 33 represents ages 29 through 33 and so on.  The relative part is introduced when all of the player’s other 5-year periods are indexed to the player’s best 5-year period.  The best 5-year period equals 100 and the rest of the 5-year periods are measured accordingly.  The chart above  displays the career progression in which 80% of players fit.  A couple of things to remember when viewing the chart is that the area between the 10% lines is 80% of all players measured. Additionally, the player’s performance is compared to himself, so if Player A has an 85 rating at age  32 and Player B has an 89 rating at the same age, that does not necessarily mean that Player  B was a better player; it just means Player B closer to his peak than Player A.

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His stats fell sharply at age 31, but he was still a good ballplayer considering the heights he came down from.



Pete Rose: No evidence of performance enhancement; a very consistent career curve.(Click Chart to Enlarge)

A great way to detect an abnormal career progression; it uses OPS+ as a proxy to measure overall batting skill.  Relative OPS+ is measured by comparing 5-year periods of a player’s career.  For instance, when 32 is seen on the age axis it represents the player’s performance from age 28 through age 32, and age 33 represents ages 29 through 33 and so on.  The relative part is introduced when all of the player’s other 5-year periods are indexed to the player’s best 5-year period.  The best 5-year period equals 100 and the rest of the 5-year periods are measured accordingly.  The chart above  displays the career progression in which 80% of players fit.  A couple of things to remember when viewing the chart is that the area between the 10% lines is 80% of all players measured. Additionally, the player’s performance is compared to himself, so if Player A has an 85 rating at age  32 and Player B has an 89 rating at the same age, that does not necessarily mean that Player  B was a better player; it just means Player B closer to his peak than Player A. 

Barry Bonds: The Chart Speaks for Itself…His Giant Head Does Too…(Click Image to Enlarge)

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