It was great to finally see Jason Bay suit-up, and trot out to left field for the Mets. It was even nicer to see him go 1-4 with a double and score two runs. However, with Bay back in his usual five hole behind David Wright and a now healthy Carlos Beltran, it will not only pay dividends for the Mets offense in general, but also for Ike Davis in particular.
With a lineup featuring Jose Reyes, Angel Pagan, David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Jason Bay, Ike Davis, and Josh Thole, the Mets arguably have their finest lineup since 2006. Before you say, “But didn’t the Mets have a similar lineup last season,” keep in mind that Beltran only had 62 PA’s in the finals months of 2010, Jason Bay sat-out concussed for most of the second half, Jose Reyes was also just a year removed from an injury-plagued 2009, and Thole and Davis were mere rookies.
Bay’s bat completely changes the dynamic of the Mets lineup, which up until this point, was a pretty pedestrian offense. Prior to Bay’s return in 2011, Davis hit fifth for the Mets on ten occasions this season, with Angel Pagan hitting there six times, and Scott Hairston twice. As Matt Kaufman asserted in his article about the Mets pre-Bay lineup, “Once a pitcher gets through the first five batters (four if Beltran is resting), the hitters become far less threatening.” It’s true. Without Terry Collins throwing guys like Lucas Duda, Brad Emaus, Willie Harris, and Dan Murphy in the sixth and seventh holes in oft-changing lineups, opposing pitchers will now have to strategically decide between to pitching to Jason Bay or Ike Davis, two very legitimate Major League hitters.
In addition, while eighteen games is a small sample size, it appears as though Davis’ pitch selection has also improved significantly from 2010. According to FanGraphs, Davis has only swung at 17.5% of pitches outside the strike-zone (“O-Swing %”), as opposed to the 27.3% he swung at last season. The combination of Davis’ improved eye and new front-loaded help only supports the idea that the young hitter will now see more opportunities with men on-base, and even better pitches to hit in those situations.