Will Jason Bay Rebound In 2011?

On December 29, 2009, the Mets and free agent outfielder Jason Bay agreed to a four-year $66 million deal with a fifth year vesting option that could bring the deal over the $80 million plateau.

He was coming of an All-Star year in Boston and even won a Silver Slugger award. He finally earned the contract he deserved after some great years being buried in Pittsburgh.

If someone who did not watch Bay all year looked at his 2010 stats compared to the rest of his career, they may think that the Mets wasted a ton of money on a washed up player.

I would have to disagree here, considering Bay was limited to only 95 games due to suffering a concussion in late July.

Bay didn’t necessarily get off to a great start in New York. However, from mid May to mid June, he was a productive player, keeping his batting average in the .285 range. Surprisingly, Bay showed he still had good speed by blasting six triples and swiping 10 bases without being caught.

He played an excellent left field defense, which eventually cost him the remainder of the season after making a fantastic grab up against the wall in Los Angeles.

The problem with Bay all year is that he failed to do the things he was brought over here to do: hit home runs and more importantly drive in runs.

Even in just 95 games, he still only managed six home runs. Here’s a guy that averages 30 HR per 162 games and only hit six after signing a huge offseason contract.

Granted, Citi Field is not the ideal home run hitter’s ballpark. So home runs aside, Bay still struggled with driving in runs. He only drove in 47 runs in his shortened season, far lower than what the Mets expected when they signed him.

Bay was successful at the one thing the Mets knew they were going to get when they signed him, and that’s strikeouts. Usually when a player’s power increases, strikeouts tend to increase as well. Not the case for Bay. He still recorded 91 strikeouts in 95 games.

But injuries happen to all ballplayers, especially when they play for the Mets.

In my mind, Bay has somewhat of a clean slate in 2011. He struggled mightily in his first year of the contract, but he has possibly four more years to make up for it. You can tell that he is a competitive guy, and this year’s struggles did not sit well with him.

He will be poised for a big year for the Mets. He might not hit 30 HR, and he will probably still strikeout 150 times. But hopefully he can be a clutch force in the middle of the Mets lineup and drive in over 100 runs, which he has done four other times in his career.

Depending on the Mets offseason activity, Bay would fit well in the sixth spot in the Mets order. Wright, Beltran, Davis and Bay in that order (and if all healthy) could create havoc for National League pitching staffs throughout the season.

Last year, there was a ton of pressure on Bay early in the season to carry the team. I mean, when Mike Jacobs and Gary Matthews, Jr. are in the Opening Day starting lineup, of course there’s going to be pressure on guys like Bay and Wright to produce.

But on a healthy team and despite his massive salary, Bay would fit nicely as a role player on the Mets. In fact, if everyone on the team does their own job, this team may surprise some non-believers.

Your time has come J-Bay. Do what you were brought here to do.

About Jim Mancari 255 Articles
Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He earned a Master's degree in journalism from Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Be sure to visit http://www.jimmancari.com/