Jose J. Bautista and “Sabbathmetrics”

Friday night marks the beginning of “Yom Kippur“, the holiest day on the Hebrew calendar. It is a day of atonement, and one is to refrain from work, while attending synagogue and fasting. At the VORG, it means its time for another edition of “Sabbathmetrics“. Today we examine the Sabbath/non-Sabbath performance differences of former pitcher Jose J. Bautista.

According to Wikipedia, Bautista is observantly Jewish, born to a Dominican father and an Israeli mother. His mother’s family was originally from Russia, as is his wife. The site “Jews in Sports” offers some more details on Bautista’s faith:

Because he was from the Dominican Republic, it took a while for reporters to realize he was Jewish. He explained, “The first time they found out was when I was with the Chicago Cubs in 1993. I had taken my shirt off and a reporter saw that I was wearing a Star of David and asked me, ‘why are you wearing that?’ Even after I told him that my mother gave it to me, it took a little while before he got the point.” …  Bautista is quoted in The Big Book of Jewish Baseball as saying, “Even though there aren’t many Jews in the Dominican Republic, I would like to go back home and build a synagogue in my native land. That way, they will forever have a house of God.”

He pitched for seven years in the Mets system before being selected by the Orioles in the December 1987 Rule 5 draft. He joined the Orioles rotation in 1988, spending four years with them before moving to the Cubs, Giants, Tigers and finally the Cardinals.  As a rookie, he went 6–15 with 76 strikeouts and a 4.30 ERA in 171 2/3 innings pitched. That was his best season as an Oriole. He holds the MLB record for fewest amount of pitches in a complete game of 8 innings or more. He threw 70 pitches in a complete game 1-0 Orioles loss to the Seattle Mariners on September 30, 1988.

In terms of “Sabbath versus non-Sabbath performance”, the only category he was better on the Sabbath in was winning percentage.  Even with a .500 record in Sabbath games, his ERA was a half-run wrose, and his hits per nine and walks per nine were both higher in Sabbath games.  He also struck out not even three batters per nine in Sabbath games, more than 35% lower than his K/9 rate in non-Sabbath games.

Non-Sabbath Sabbath
Games 253 59
W 24 8
L 34 8
Win Pct .410 .500
Sv 2 1
IP 562.66 123
ERA 4.53 5.05
H/9 9.5 9.9
BB/9 2.2 2.3
SO/9 4.6 2.9
HR/9 1.4 1.5


Prior entries in the “Sabbathmetrics” series:

Ross Baumgarten
Bob Melvin
Art Shamsky
Scott Radinsky
Norm Sherry
Kevin Youkilis
Steve Stone
Mike Lieberthal
Ron Blomberg
Shawn Green
Al Rosen
Ian Kinsler
Sandy Koufax

My thanks to Baseball Reference for their help with some of this data.


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