When Jason Bay signed his four-year, $66 million contract to play left field for the Mets, it was believed that he would provide the booming bat needed by the Mets that was sorely missed last season. After all, Daniel Murphy led the team with a measly 12 home runs, while Bay hit three times that amount with the Boston Red Sox.
The Mets have now played one full month of baseball. After their first 28 games, Jason Bay is hitting a pedestrian .238, with one home run and nine RBI.
To put that into perspective, those are the numbers expected of Carlos Zambrano at the plate, not the Mets’ everyday leftfielder. He has also whiffed at an alarming rate, racking up 33 strikeouts over those 28 games.
While I was one of those fans who was elated when the Mets signed him, I’ve been doing a little research on our latest cleanup hitter. The Mets deemed it necessary to give Bay a four-year deal worth $66 million after a season in which he hit .267, with a career-high 36 HR and 119 RBI (He also struck out 162 times). After all, they needed a power hitting outfielder and Bay fit that description.
So I was going through my blogger’s bible – also known as baseball-reference.com – and came across the numbers of a certain Richmond Lockwood Sexson (Richie Sexson to you and me). Over his 12-year major league career, the Paul Bunyan body double averaged .261, with 36 HR and 112 RBI. He also averaged 156 strikeouts per full season.
This means the Mets gave Jason Bay $66 million after his “great” season which resembled a typical Richie Sexson season. When Sexson signed his final contract prior to the 2005 season, he was given a four-year deal by the Seattle Mariners worth $50 million. Sexson had already had two seasons in which he hit 45 HR and had also driven in 120+ runs twice, power numbers that Jason Bay has not yet reached.
People who remember Richie Sexson thought he was an all-or-nothing type hitter; either he would hit a home run or he would strike out. Well, the hulking slugger struck out at least 120 times in a season six times over his 12-year career. Jason Bay has played six full seasons in the major leagues. He has struck out at least 120 times in all six of those seasons. With his 33 strikeouts over the first month of this season, Bay appears to be well on his way to his seventh consecutive season of 120+ strikeouts.
To make matters worse, Bay is more strikeout-prone when the Mets have men on base. So far this season, Bay has 52 at-bats with men on base. He has struck out an alarming 21 times in those situations. It’s no wonder with those lofty strikeout totals that Bay is only hitting .194 with runners in scoring position.
Back in December, I wrote a piece about Jason Bay reminding me of Kevin McReynolds. After the first month of the season, Bay is now resembling Richie Sexson – a poor man’s Richie Sexson at that. Too bad the Mets made him a rich man for that type of performance.