Despite Jason Bay’s mind-boggling, year-and-a-quarter long slump, Terry Collins continues to insist on hitting Bay fourth in the Mets lineup. “If we really want to analyze it, he’s here to drive in runs,” Collins said Wednesday. “The minute he breaks out, I want him in that spot to drive in runs.”
The lineup is spread thin without Wright and Davis, and I understand that Collins wants to instill confidence in his struggling left fielder. But Bay realizes how badly he’s hitting, and if Collins wants to give his team the best chance to win, he can’t leave a black hole in the cleanup spot.
In Bay’s seven years before joining the Mets, he hit .280 with an on-base percentage of about .375 and a .519 slugging percentage. Per 162 games, he averaged 33 homers and 107 RBIs.
In 125 games as a Met: .253/.342/.385, and a 162-game rate of 10 homers and 71 RBIs. The .385 slugging percentage tells much of the story.
This year, the only somewhat encouraging number is Jason’s .328 on-base percentage (bad but not atrocious), and he has just six extra base hits and a horrid .327 slugging percentage. Maybe he’ll break out eventually — baseball is a strange game — but for now he can’t be treated like Jason Bay of the Pirates and Red Sox. Jason Bay of the Mets has to be treated as a different hitter.
Bay has spent 13 games in the cleanup spot in 2011, including the last 10, and in those 13 games he’s gone 10-for-42 with just one extra base hit and two RBIs. This year, he is 3-for-27 and has a .111 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position. Yikes.
It’s sad to say, but Jason Bay of the Mets is a seventh hitter at best. It is unfair to the team, and to Bay, to give him the burden of batting in a key RBI position when he has no ability to drive in runs. Right now, Murphy, Pagan, Turner and Paulino are all better options to bat fourth.
In 2007 and 2008, Carlos Delgado went through some brutal slumps, and in ’08 he was moved from fourth to fifth, spent stretches of games in the six-hole, and even hit seventh a handful of times. When he broke out, he returned to the cleanup spot. Even when he was struggling, at least Delgado was a home run threat. Jason Bay is not. Batting cleanup puts more pressure on Bay to hit for power — something he has forgotten how to do — and it sets the Mets up for failure.
So for everyone’s sake, Collins should slide Jason Bay down in the lineup for now. If he ever figures things out, Terry will know what to do.