Much was expected of Jason Bay when the Mets decided that he would be the one to fill the power void of the 2009 season and give their core player David Wright some much needed protection in the lineup.
Even critics of his $66 million dollar deal at the time, did not expect Bay’s power numbers to flat-line as they did last season, his first with the New York Mets.
Most of the concern with Bay’s contract was more about the length of the deal and the easily attainable vesting option for a fifth year, than anything else. Sure there were some whispers out of Boston about concerns with his back and his arm, but the medical reports were clean and Bay vehemently denied the rumors.
So where did all that power go? And more importantly, will it ever come back again?
Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger wrote the following,
Before he crashed into the left-field wall in Dodger Stadium last July, Jason Bay’s season was already disintegrating. His performance that month was frightful — a .250 slugging percentage, a strikeout every three at-bats, zero home runs.
A slow start had morphed into a bad season and things were quickly deteriorating just before he injured himself.
Bay says, he was trying to do to much. “All of a sudden, I kind of started changing things,” he said yesterday, “and trying to do a little too much.”
When asked yesterday about what he hopes to accomplish this season, Bay replied:
“More than anything, I just want to get back to the player that I know I am. I kind of lost that a little bit last year. Like I said, I’m not out there to try to prove anybody right or wrong — more myself to just go out there and be consistent and be the guy I’m supposed to be.”
When asked how many homeruns he believes he can hit this season, he said:
“Thirty, I think, is reasonable. Yeah, it’s a big ballpark. And the number might take a hit… David Wright hit near 30. It can be done. It’s not so much about the home runs. It’s about the overall production. For me anyway, if I’m driving in runs, I would like the home runs — no question. But I still need to drive in runs.”
I would expect a solid bounce-back season from Bay in 2010. He had a lot of things working against him: a new league, a huge ballpark, the pressure of a big contract, playing in the hotbed of the New York media, and joining a Mets team with a dozen monkeys on its back.
Like Bay said, I’m more concerned with his overall production: getting on base and driving in runs.
Whether he does it by hitting booming homeruns or blasting doubles off the wall is of little concern to me. Show me an OPS of .850+ and a slugging percentage at or above .500 and everything else will simply take care of itself.