The Magic of Murphy
There are any number of ways one could dissect the incredible season currently being turned in by Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista.
In all of baseball’s long history, there have only been three players to achieve at least 50 home runs, 35 doubles, 100 walks, 100 runs and 120 RBIs in a single season.
Babe Ruth did it twice (1920 and 1921). Hack Wilson joined the club with his unbelievable 1930 showing. And then Luis Gonzalez added his name to the list in 2001 with Arizona.
In Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Twins, Bautista drew a walk in the first inning, giving him 100 free passes on the year. That made him the fourth member of that elite class of sluggers.
“It’s amazing to me,” Bautista said. “It’s unbelievable, but at the same time I’m happy and I’m proud that I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved.”
Blue Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy should also feel a sense of pride over what he has achieved as well. Consider that, dating back to 1930, the only two players to reach those collective benchmarks in one season are Gonzalez and Bautista, who both had Murphy as their hitting coach during their historic seasons.
Murphy was Arizona’s hitting coach in 2001 and has been with the Blue Jays in the same role since manager Cito Gaston returned midway through the 2008 campaign. Bautista joined Toronto roughly one month after Murphy’s arrival three seasons ago, and Murphy went to work on adjusting the right fielder’s approach.
“With all the adjustments that I made,” Bautista said, “I feel like I’ve been seeing the ball better all season long. It’s allowed me to lay off some bad pitches and it’s led to some walks.
“When I get myself in good hitting counts, they eventually have to come over the plate and that’s when I’ve done most of the damage.”
Reminded recently of his connection to Gonzalez, and now Bautista, Murphy was not sure how to react.
“I never looked at it like that,” Murphy replied. “The only thing I can say is I teach the same thing. It’s not about hitting home runs — not at all. It’s about getting the pitch you want to hit. I think guys are trying not to hit everything.
“They’re trying to hit the pitch they want to hit. That’s made all the difference.”
Here’s a look at the list: