By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
At 8–17, it hasn’t exactly been the kind of start that was expected out of the Toronto Blue Jays, but after rallying behind their injured starter Aaron Sanchez en route to winning consecutive games for the first time this season, perhaps the weekend set against Tampa Bay will serve as a springboard for better things to come in May.
Nearly lost in the shadows of a heroic performance from Toronto’s bullpen, including multi-inning shutout appearances from Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup, one of this franchise’s most iconic sluggers helped further cement his Blue Jays legacy with a double and a single in the series’ winning contest.
With one out and the tying run on second base following the Rays' decision to hand the ball off to their all-star closer in the eighth inning of Sunday’s series finale, José Bautista stepped in and promptly laced an Alex Colomé offering off the wall in left field for an RBI double.
Not only did the hard hit line drive plate Toronto’s first run of the game, the first of three that would score in the frame, it also represented Bautista’s 1,000th base hit as a member of the Blue Jays.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that you’re creeping up. I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve enjoyed a lot of success” said Bautista, who was glad to have been able to share his milestone moment with fans in Toronto on Sunday. “Anytime I can make something positive happen on the field for the team, I’m happy”.
For those counting at home, only nine players have ever reached the 1,000-hit plateau in a Blue Jays uniform. Of the nine, four are currently enshrined on the team's Level of Excellence.
Players with 1,000 Hits with the Blue Jays
1. Tony Fernandez, 1,583*
2. Vernon Wells, 1,529
3. Carlos Delgado, 1,413*
4. Lloyd Moseby, 1,319
5. George Bell, 1,294*
6. Shannon Stewart, 1,082
7. Joe Carter, 1,051*
8. Damaso Garcia, 1,028
9. Jose Bautista, 1,000
*Indicates member of Blue Jays Level of Excellence
Should he remain healthy, Bautista, who recorded 99 hits during an injury-shortened campaign in 2016, could conceivably jump Damaso Garcia, Joe Carter and Shannon Stewart by season's end. In doing so, he will claim sole possession of #6 on the franchise list behind fellow Dominican slugger, George Bell.
So just where does Bautista rank with regards to all-time Blue Jays outfielders? We hit the books in order to find out.
Wins Above Replacement — #1 (36)
Walks — #1 (735)
Home Runs — #1 (266)
On-Base Percentage — #1 (.380)
Slugging Percentage — #1 (.522)
Runs Scored — #3 (711)
RBI — #4 (708)
Games Played — #4 (1103)
Total Bases — #4 (2017)
Barring a trade, Bautista’s current deal will keep him in Toronto through the end of the season and a pair of mutual options, if exercised, could see the 36-year-old slugger stay with the Blue Jays through the 2019 season.
Simply put, there’s still plenty of time to add to his already staggering offensive totals in Toronto.
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