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Jose Bautista and an American Hero

If you thought there is no precedent for the staggering power surge experienced by Jose Bautista at age 29 think again.  Meet Vietnam war veteran Champ Summers.

Here are John Junior Summers career splits-

Age 28-32: 352 AB, 8 HR, .318 SLG%

Age 33-34: 653 AB, 38 HR, .528 SLG%

Since Champ was serving his country during the late ’60s he didn’t play pro-ball until age 25. After hitting below the Mendoza line (.199) in 3 seasons for the Reds he was traded for a bag of balls to the Tigers mid-season in 1979.  Note the slugging rates above through age 32.  After moving to Old Tiger Stadium, Champ posted the following SLG% during the summer of ’79:

June .556

July .673

Aug .641

Sept .566

Champ was the 11th best hitter on the ’79 Reds and the best hitter on the ’79 Tigers!  HR’s continued to fly off his bat at age 34 in 1980 (.504 SLG%) before he reverted to the mean in the strike shortened season of ’81 (.358 SLG%).  He produced zero major league value in his final 4 seasons thus proving that even a sample size of 650 ABs can be small.

Thank you Champ for your service to the United States.  We salute you!