I’m surprised that I’m not more concerned about Jason Bay. And I’m surprised that I haven’t heard more rumbling and grumbling about Bay from my friends and fellow Mets fans about him too. Bay seems to be likable. He hustles all of the time to the point that you rarely see players do these days. And he plays a much better left field than I expected. He’s not great in the field but he makes all of the plays and doesn’t make any dumb throws. He’s always throwing to the right spot, hitting the cutoff man at the right times.
There’s no denying Bay’s inauspicious start at the plate though. The Mets haven’t gotten the guy that they thought they were getting. His OPS is down about .100 below what you would expect. 4 home runs after playing 65 games is a concern. It’s more than a concern. He was the guy that could pull the ball down the left field line and get it out of Citi Field.
Jack Moore did an analysis for FanGraphs on Bay’s 2010 season to this point. He came to the following conclusion:
What we’re seeing with Bay seems to be one of the nastiest combinations of park effects, regression to the mean, aging, and simple poor luck that I can recall a power hitter encountering. It’s certainly possible that Bay has simply lost some of his pop, but right now the most likely scenario is that Bay is working through an extended slump. ZiPS projects him to add 19 more home runs before season’s end, as opposed to the 9 that his pace suggests. It’s too early to dismiss Jason Bay as a power hitter, even if he can’t replicate his awesome 2009.
I’m not sure that I buy into the aging and park effect arguments. In my mind, it’s more a factor of an extended slump. We knew he was streaky when he got here. But we didn’t know he was “this” streaky.
My guess is that he will end up somewhere around 20 home runs this season. If you look at his career numbers since his 2004 Rookie of the Year season below, he’s never hit fewer than 21 home runs in a season. Sure, he’s never played 81 games at Citi Field before either. But it doesn’t look like lost power to me. It looks more like he hasn’t found a really comfortable swing and he doesn’t have very good timing. That’s a slump.