Year in Review: Jason Bay

By Will DeBoer

Rising Apple’s tour through the 2012 Mets is almost at its end. This morning we take a look at a man whose career in the orange and blue will soon be at its end (but not nearly soon enough). Jason Bay, this was your 2012 (although I’m sure you won’t want to remember it).

Jul. 27, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; New York Mets left fielder Jason Bay (44) against Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

How He Handled the Bat

“Poorly” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Jason Bay was so bad at the plate in 2012 that he made Mets fans miss the “good ol’ days” of 2010 when he was hitting .259 with 47 RBIs. Bay missed over half the season with various injuries, including his second concussion in a little less than two calendar years. But he wasn’t much of a help to the team on those rare occasions when he was healthy: Jason hit .165 with 8 HRs, 20 RBIs, and a .536 OPS in 215 plate appearances. He had far more strikeouts (58) than he did hits (32), and when he actually did get the bat on the ball he was nothing more than a singles hitter. After his first two horrific seasons in New York, I figured there would be no way Jason Bay could get any worse. How wrong was I?

How He Handled the Glove

Jason is typically solid as a rock in left field, and while his .983 fielding percentage was a few points lower than his career average, he was dependable as usual in the field. Towards the end of the season when he was getting little-to-no playing time, he would come on in the later innings as a defensive replacement for guys like Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda. Try the most expensive defensive replacement ever (more on that later).

Projected Role for 2013

Despite a fan outcry for his immediate dismissal, Bay’s hefty salary mandates that he will be assured his spot on the big-league roster in 2013. What Sandy Alderson does with his limited budget in the offseason will determine whether Bay continues to hold down the fort in left field permanently; personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if they plug him as the Opening Day left fielder again next season. But if he performs anywhere near the level he did this year, expect to see him run out of town George Foster style before the trade deadline.

Contract Status and Trade Rumors

Bay’s exuberant salary has made him an albatross of such distinction that John Cleese is trying to sell him as a flight concession. But while Terry Jones may be buying, other major league teams may not be so keen as to take on Jason’s $16 million in 2013 plus $17 million vesting option in 2014, which gets activated if Bay exceeds 600 plate appearances this season. The only way Bay gets moved is if the Mets agree to swap bad contracts with another team. Such rumors were going around in 2012 involving Bay for the then-Red Sox’ Josh Beckett, and later Bay for the Marlins’ John Buck and Heath Bell. While it’s unlikely that the Mets will find a buyer for Bay after such an atrocious season, New York fans can at least take solace in that 2013 will be the last season they have to put up with him.

Check back later this afternoon for a rundown of Justin Hampson’s year that was.

You can follow me on Twitter @MidwesternMet and at my own Mets blog of the same name. Thanks for reading, have a nice day, and L.G.M!