There hasn’t been a lot of positives with Jason Bay, but barring something weird, he’ll be here next year. So are there any signs that he can have a season that we can even remotely describe as good? Before you jump all over me, I know I’m grasping at straws here. On the other hand, Jason Bay sneezes harder than he hit the ball the last two years, and you’d figure he could have a better year almost by accident.
Health would be a good start. He’s missed some time each of the two years, keeping him from getting a steady rhythm that often helps baseball players. He finished 2011 hot, but he also finished it injured.
He hit one home run in April and one in May.
He hit two home runs in June and two home runs in July.
He hit three home runs in August and three in September.
That’s a steady progression. It’s not a sign for 40 home runs, but three a month would at least give him 18. (Which is how many he has for the Mets now)
He had a hit in each of the last 15 games he started except two, a Tim Hudson 10K game and a clunker against the Nationals. That’s a .954 OPS in September. It was nice to see him avoid some of those prolonged 0-20 slumps he so frequently got himself into. However he did have a 2 for 45 slump in August just before getting hot.
His OPS jumped from a .656 in the first half to a .758 in the second half.
He was clearly hitting the ball with authority in September; In addition to his three home runs, he had seven doubles. 75 AB is hardly a representative sample, but we were beginning to doubt he was capable of being good even that long.
Even a modest 10% improvement from Bay would put him close to a .800 OPS with around 20 home runs. That’s still well below his career averages. 2011 was the bottom of the barrel for Bay, but his career trajectory doesn’t read as a straight down arrow, so there’s hope and even optimism that he’ll have a better year next year.
Last week I posed a tongue-in-cheek relationship between how many home runs Jason Bay hits this season, and what record the Mets will be predicted to finish with next year. He’s up to 12, good for an even 81-81 prediction.
He’s on another hot streak, where he’s actually driving the ball. It’s good to see, but we’ve also seen it before. He still seems to find ways to go into 0-30 stretches after getting hot, although the length of time between hot streaks seems to be lessening. I can’t help but wonder if there were lingering effects of the concussion that even he wasn’t, or isn’t, aware of.
Regardless, the Mets could really use Jason Bay to be at least a contributing power threat next year. I think if he can reach 15 home runs, and finish out September with numbers approaching his career averages on the month, that we can at least have some faith he’ll be useful next year. His career line stands at
and his September numbers so far.
What do you need to see from him to not go into 2012 feeling he’s a black hole in the lineup? Is it completely hopeless? Do you need him to rack up a couple more doubles? Five more home runs? Less strikeouts? Avoid any double-digit o’fers?
Jason Bay hit the wall in Dodger Stadium hard and made a great catch. A couple of days later he was done for the season, and when he returned this year it was like someone had switched him off. He struggled, was dropped in the order, failed to have an extra base hit for weeks, and watched his average plummet. Then he started to get some more hits, and the occasional home run. He was drawing more walks. Then he made another amazing catch and hit the wall in Dodger Stadium.
One of the first things they ask you when you call a tech repair shop for service on your computer is, “Is it switched on?” No one thought to ask that of Jason Bay this season. Then Bay hit the wall, and his switch went back on. Guys back in the clubhouse hung their heads in shame and said to themselves, “Why didn’t I think of that?” and Jason Bay hit two home runs and drove in four runs in a 6-0 rout of the Dodgers.
It was also Jason Bay’s 155th game as a Met, which would probably be more than he would’ve played in his first season as a Met. Perhaps he’s just safely past his ‘first year in NY’ slump, and back to being a good baseball player.