Jason Bay is [Sort of] Back

Jason Bay went 1-5 yesterday against the Tigers, but also hit a game-defining grand slam. It was just his fourth homerun of the season. Considering Bay had sixteen jacks at the same point of the season two years ago with the Boston Red Sox, it’s not a forgone conclusion that Jason Bay is no longer close to the player he once was. However, it’s possible he’s at least back to the slightly-below-league-average player he was last season. And that might be enough.

Bay had a very disappointing 2010 campaign. Despite signing a lucrative four year, sixty-six million dollar contract, the former slugger only posted a .259/.347/.402 line with six homeruns, forty-seven RBI, forty-eight runs, and ten stolen bases. His season was also cut short due to a bad concussion. In comparison to his seven-year average (.280/.375/.519 line with thirty homeruns, ninety-nine RBI, ninety-four runs, and ten stolen bases), Bay had quickly regressed into mediocrity.

But just when Mets fans thought they had seen rock bottom, Bay sank even further in 2011. Through his first thirty-nine games, Bay put-up a dismal .207/.307/.279 line with two homeruns, ten RBI, twenty runs, and four stolen bases. Some fans called for a demotion–and others for his release.

However, since June 11, Bay has looked a lot better. In fact, he’s almost back to his still-very-mediocre-but-more watchable-2010-self. The left fielder has posted a .298/.317/.439 line with two homeruns, ten RBI, six runs, and two stolen bases. Bay has even looked fantastic in the field, sporting a career-best 5.7 UZR/150. The only red flag during Bay’s hot streak has been his .357 BAbip. While his current BAbip is at an unsustainable level, at least it’s on the other end of the spectrum from his dismal, early season .267 BAbip.

If Bay could continue to hit like he recently has, and walk at the rate he was in his first thirty-nine games, Mets fans might be able to tolerate the underachiever. It’s obvious Bay will no longer be the big bopper the Mets thought they were signing, but at this point, fans should embrace average production and a steady glove from him.

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