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Jose Bautista was a pleasant surprise in an unpleasant season

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The Mets got much more out of Jose Bautista than anyone expected.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

When the Mets first signed him on May 22nd, expectations were low for Jose Bautista and, to be honest, fans were right to be skeptical. After all, Bautista was a 37-year-old outfielder coming off of the worst season of his career in 2017. His 12 mediocre games with Atlanta before being released didn’t instill much confidence either.

Even with everything working against him, Jose Bautista had a solid tenure as a New York Met. He played a little bit more than half a season, 83 games, in orange and blue while slugging 9 home runs with a 106 wRC+. That number might not be an imposing one, but it’s substantially better than his 81 wRC+ mark in Toronto last season. Bautista may not have the contact or power that he once did, his eye at the plate hasn’t diminished, as evidenced by his .204/.351/.367 batting line.

Moving to the WARs, Fangraphs clocked Bautista at a paltry 0.4 fWAR in his time with the Mets, while Baseball Reference has Jose Bautista at a more palatable 1.4 bWAR. Out of all the position players to take the field for the Mets this season, Bautista’s 1.4 bWAR is tied for fifth best. Bautista being fifth best might say more about the team than the player, but it’s still fun either way.

A fixture in dugout celebrations and on-field mobs, the man known as Joey Bats had his own day in the sun as a Met. During a Friday night game against the Tampa Bay Rays on July 6th, Bautista came to the dish with bases loaded in the ninth and a chance to win the game with a well-placed single. Instead, Bautista channeled his inner Blue Jay and deposited the pitch into the second deck in left field for a game-winning grand slam. One surprising fact about the home run is that it was the first walk-off home run of his career. Prior to that game, Bautista had 336 regular-season home runs, plus another six in the playoffs, but none of them ended the game.

As the August trade deadline approached, the writing was on the wall for Bautista. He had no future with the team and the most he could do for them was fetch some money or a lottery ticket in a trade. On August 28th, the Mets did just that when they traded Joey Bats to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.

While his value in the trade remains unknown, his value to the 2018 Mets season is known. In a summer of injuries, letdowns, and blowouts, Jose Bautista was something worth cheering for on the offense. He wasn’t the player he once was, but in the moments that the six-time All Star appeared, it made for some fun nights at the ballpark.