Jay Bruce finished the 2018 season much better than he began it. However, there’s no real fit for him nor was there at the beginning of his most recent stay with the team.
At the end of a rough season, it’s easy to say Jay Bruce was never a good fit for the 2018 New York Mets. Let’s give each other some credit. We all kind of knew this kind of year was more likely than not.
Bruce struggled for most of the year, putting up putrid offensive numbers and barely cracking home runs. A foot injury may be responsible for a large percentage of this lengthy slump, but even with that taken into consideration, he never really belonged.
The fact that Bruce is under contract for another two seasons makes it even worse. Of course, I’m speaking with some hindsight and the fit is even worse than it was last winter.
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When the Mets decided to bring Bruce back, we had no idea Brandon Nimmo would develop into such a talented player. Many of us probably didn’t even know the name Peter Alonso. Both right field and first base looked like options.
Now, not so much. Alonso is poised to take over first base as soon as possible. Right field is the position where either Nimmo or Michael Conforto should make their own.
Bruce’s defensive limitations make him a burden. The team has no true center fielder other than the often injury Juan Lagares who, by the way, is a free agent after 2019 anyway. Not to mention, most of us have realized Lagares is best used as the lighter-half of a platoon.
I do understand why the Mets decided to throw Bruce a bone and bring him back. He had a terrific 2017 season full of power.
What the team didn’t do was take the rest of his career into consideration. There have been many times when Bruce couldn’t deliver at the plate all year long. Even in a ballpark like the one in Cincinnati, the big powerful lefty has finished seasons with poor offensive totals.
Perhaps Bruce’s presence looks even worse because of Todd Frazier. On offense, they are quite similar. Each hits for a low batting average and has the potential to hit a lot of home runs. Neither did the latter this year, partially because of poor health.
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The Mets will be lucky to trade Bruce this winter. He’s excess baggage right now and there’s not much room in the overhead compartment to store him.