In 2017, New York Mets slugger Jay Bruce was on pace to challenge for the franchise’s home run record before a midseason trade sent him away. What if the season played out differently?
Not long ago, Jay Bruce put together a really good half-season with the New York Mets. After a weak regular season at the end of 2016, Bruce bounced back with a monster performance for the 2017 squad.
In 103 games and 448 trips to the plate, Bruce hit 29 home runs for the Metropolitans. He didn’t get a chance to add any more because, on August 9, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians.
Bruce did add 7 more home runs to his season total with the Indians. Combined with what he did in New York, the left-handed slugger belted a total of 36. While this wouldn’t have set a Mets franchise record with this number, he was pretty close to it.
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In a different timeline, the 2017 Mets were a winning ball club and they never did trade Bruce. He stayed with the team all year long and continued to hit home runs at the same rate. Under these circumstances, things may have ended differently.
As a member of the 2017 Mets, Bruce averaged a home run every 15.4 plate appearances. With the Indians, it took him more than 24 trips to the plate to go yard.
By simply taking his Mets average and putting it with the 617 total plate appearances he had in 2017 on both teams, we see he could have hit 40-41 home runs in an orange and blue uniform.
Give him a few more opportunities or just an extra gust of wind to carry a ball over the fence, suddenly the organization has a new home run king. Suddenly, our perception of Bruce in Mets history is a whole lot different.
Bruce’s time in New York was mostly unmemorable. When the organization brought him back for the 2018 campaign, he struggled to stay healthy. When he was on the field, he wasn’t the masher he was one year prior. He hit only 8 home runs all year long.
We can’t rewrite MLB history and make it fact. However, there’s no doubt Bruce had an opportunity to put his name in the record books had the season played out differently.
What would have happened after the 2017 campaign would have changed the Mets further. Bruce may still be with the club, living off his historic year with the team. Considering the team already has plenty of options in the corner outfield positions and at first base, we can only guess as to how the full roster would look.
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Regardless of this, Bruce’s home run record wouldn’t have lasted too long. In 2019, Pete Alonso famously showed off his home run trot 53 times. Bruce’s short-term, non-existent home run record would have faded away just two seasons later.