Jason Bay’s debut season with the Mets was a disaster; I don’t think that there is any better way to put it. First he was plagued by simple inability (.259, 6 HR, 47 RBI, 48 R in 348 AB) before his season was cut short due to a concussion. After signing a 4-year, $66 million contract prior to the 2010 season significantly more was expected from both the Mets and fantasy owners.
Due $16 million in 2011, the question now is if he can rebound to what we thought could’ve been.
Bay is the same player who posted 30+ HR years in four out of five seasons from 2005-2009. Yes, CitiField easily could’ve zapped a little bit of his power, but just six?! That just doesn’t seem likely. It wasn’t just that he didn’t hit at home (3 HR in 159 AB), but he was also pathetic on the road (3 HR in 189 AB).
His fly ball rate was consistent with his career, as he was at 45.2% (compared to 44.5% for his career). The problem was in his HR/FB rate. Just look at the numbers since 2005:
- 2005 – 17.0%
- 2006 – 18.8%
- 2007 – 11.4%
- 2008 – 15.0%
- 2009 – 19.7%
- 2010 – 5.1%
Which of these numbers doesn’t belong?
David Wright is not a perfect comparison (for various reasons), but we saw him struggle with power in his first year at CitiField as well. He went from 33 HR in ’08 to 10 HR in ’09 back to 29 HR in ’10.
Maybe there an intimidation factor at play with the big confines of CitiField…
Maybe he was pressing to impress his new teammates…
Maybe it was the adjustment back to the NL…
Whatever it was, we clearly didn’t get the Jason Bay we have come to expect. There’s no reason to think that he won’t bounce back from it. I think the greater concern is the concussion that ended his season on July 25. The other problems can be explained and there is reason to believe that a rebound will come. The concussion Is physical and there really is no guarantee that he fully recovers from it (it’s a similar concern that we have regarding Justin Morneau).
Still, the potential upside in Bay makes him well worth drafting in all formats. While it is tough to expect him to return to his 30+ HR days, would it surprise anyone if he hit 25 in 2011? It’s not like he wasn’t still showing extra base power, with 20 doubles and 6 triples in 2010.
The rest of his metrics were believable (26.1% strikeout rate, .329 BABIP), so with an increase in power should come an increase in average.
In fact, let’s assume 550 AB and those metrics staying about the same. If he was to hit 25 HR, his average would be .273. Don’t believe a .329 BABIP? Even if he was to fall to .310, his average would be .260. While that’s not an elite mark, it certainly isn’t going to kill you.
Throw in the fact that he hits in the middle of the Mets lineup, which should provide ample opportunities for RBI and Runs, there’s an awful lot to like. I know there are concerns about the Mets, but with Jose Reyes, David Wright, Ike Davis and company, if everyone can stay healthy scoring won’t be a concern.
As a baseline, I would consider him a .265 hitter with 20 HR, 80 RBI, 70 R and 12 SB (keep in mind, this is not my actual projection for him). Who is that comparable to?
In 2010 Hunter Pence hit .282 with 25 HR, 91 RBI, 93 R and 18 SB. Are those better numbers than my baseline for Bay? Absolutely, but they aren’t significantly off, especially when you take the ADP into consideration. Pence is currently the 21st outfielder off the board going around pick 87. Bay, meanwhile, is the 44th outfielder off the board going around pick 174.
That’s around seven rounds later for a player whose upside is certainly the same as Pence’s. In fact, given Bay’s history, would it be surprising to see him outperform Pence? If you like taking Pence in Round 7, you certainly should like taking Bay in Round 14 or later.
What are your thoughts of Bay? Do you think he could bounce back in ’11? How good do you think he could perform?
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Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections: