Blog Entry

Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

Posted on: May 23, 2011 8:09 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2011 8:41 pm
NEW YORK -- The major-league home run leader looks like a normal guy, sounds like a normal guy and acts like a normal guy.

Same with the guy who is second.

Except for their bulging home run totals, could Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson be any less like Barry Bonds?

They're friendly with the media, great with their teammates. They're good outfielders and good baserunners, and they're not bulked up like cartoon characters.

And they're still hitting home runs, at a rate that makes you think a 60-homer season is possible, for the first time in this post-Bonds, steroid-testing era.

"It's great for the game," said Blue Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez, a former player and manager. "It sends a great message. These guys are baseball players."

The Blue Jays list Bautista at 6-0, 195, but Monday night he hit his 19th home run. Bautista has missed eight games (five with back spasms, three to tend to a family matter), but he's still just the third player in the last 10 years with 19 home runs in his team's first 47 games. (Albert Pujols in 2006 and Alex Rodriguez in 2007 are the others.)

The Yankees list Granderson at 6-1, 185, but he had 16 home runs in the team's first 45 games. That's the same number Roger Maris had after 45 games in 1961, the same number Babe Ruth had after 45 games in 1927.

"The predictions have been crazy," Granderson said. "After I hit one on opening day, my buddy texted me and told me I was on pace for 162. I never get involved in that stuff."

Like Bautista, he always insists that he doesn't think of himself as a home run hitter and that he never goes to the plate thinking home run. Unlike Bautista, who until last year had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, Granderson homered 30 times for the Tigers in 2009.

When he was traded to the Yankees, and thus to a more favorable home-run ballpark, there were predictions that Granderson would hit 40. But it wasn't until late last year that he started hitting home runs at a big pace.

"He's just reaping the results of his swing," said Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who worked with Granderson on last year's adjustments. "It's as good as any swing in baseball right now."

If it's the swing with Granderson, it's strike zone discipline and hip rotation with Bautista.

"His hip torque is unbelievable," Long said. "He turns his body almost all the way to the shortstop or the third baseman, and he's still staying behind the ball, which is amazing."

Like Granderson, he generates power without an oversized body.

"Pound for pound, what these guys are doing is amazing," Long said.

Bautista did it all last year, with his majors-leading 54 home runs. And all of us who said he wouldn't hit as many this year (me included) look right now to be totally wrong.

"It's somewhat gratifying," Bautista said. "I guess I'm proving them wrong."

He says that without any venom. Bautista remains interesting, polite and accommodating. Monday, he did two rounds of interviews with New York writers.

He understands that the home runs bring attention, and he knows Granderson will deal with that, too.

"He is a power hitter," Bautista said. "He might as well embrace that."

Bautista and Granderson go back to 2005, when they were winter baseball teammates. It would be wrong to call them close friends, but they are friendly.

And no, in 2005, there was no sign that they'd one day be 1-2 in the big leagues in home runs.

"At that time, we were both just trying to establish ourselves," Granderson said.

Consider them established. And consider baseball the better for it.


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Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

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Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

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Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

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Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

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Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

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Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

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Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

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Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: May 24, 2011 11:21 pm

Hitting home runs -- but not like Barry Bonds

la2r has been saying exactly what I think.  Bonds was a HOF player before the steroids.  He was a 30 HR, 30 steal, 100 RBI per year guy who was quick on the bags, at the plate, and in the field.  He was an excellent defender who won multiple gold gloves.  But then he took roids and bulked up, his head and arm size ballooned, and then he could not run or field anymore.  He just hit HR's.  Look at McGwire's stats and he is not that good of a player take away the homers.  He is a career .260 hitter and has about 1,600 hits for his CAREER.  He hit 583 home runs and did not even come CLOSE to reaching 2000 hits.  For a player who once held the season HR record and has as many dingers as he has, the number of hits he has is horrible.  And I forgot to mention he was adequate defensively at best.  He was also injured often.  If you look at his stats, Mac started out great, then had several down years, and then goes to the Cards and all of a sudden is reborn.  After 2 record breaking years, he broke down yet again.  The same thing happened with Bonds in his last years.  I hope that these guys are clean, but I still have my concerns.  As far as Bonds and Mac, I think neither are making the HOF.

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