The New York Mets are just five games deep into the 2012 season, and by almost all accounts, the year has started strangely well. The Mets won their first four games, including a three-game sweep of the superior Atlanta Braves. With the Mets’ rotation, bullpen, and some of the offense clicking, there is very little for a fan to complain about. That is, besides Jason Bay.
In 20 plate appearances, Bay has just recorded just 3 hits (only 1 extra-base hit), and 6 strikeouts. Essentially, the right-handed hitter has not looked good. While it’s a small sample size, there are few who doubt that Bay is on his way to his third straight disappointing and increasingly mediocre season. But that’s neither here nor there. The real debate is whether it’s time to use Bay in a platoon.
Amidst the outfielder’s ugly 2011 statistics, the maligned hitter’s production versus left-handed pitching shined through–owning a magnificent .300/.418/.500 line. Especially compared to his dismal .228/.297/.332 split against righties, it couldn’t be more obvious that the former slugger is destined for part-time work.
But there’s more than his suggestive statistics that make platooning Bay attractive. Bay’s already lofty contract has a $17 million vesting option for 2014 that automatically becomes guaranteed with 500 PA’s in 2012 and 2013. His 2014 option is more or less a lock if he continues to be a starting player this year and next.
Considering his potential expense and quickly deteriorating skills versus right-handed pitching, there is little reason for the Mets not to platoon Jason Bay. Especially when (or if) Andres Torres returns from the disabled list, handing youngster Kirk Nieuwenhuis at-bats versus righties instead of Bay makes universal sense. And heck, if Bay excels as a platoon player, perhaps a more playoff-bound team would be interested in his services.