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New York Mets History

NY Mets Outfielder Battle Royale: Jay Bruce versus Jeromy Burnitz

28 Feb 2002 : Jeromy Burnitz of the New York Mets during the Spring Training game against the St.Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals won 5-2. DIGTAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/Getty Images
28 Feb 2002 : Jeromy Burnitz of the New York Mets during the Spring Training game against the St.Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. The Cardinals won 5-2. DIGTAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Eliot Schechter/Getty Images
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NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 09: Jay Bruce #19 of the New York Mets bats in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers at Citi Field on August 9, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Rangers defeated the Mets 5-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

This is what Jim Ross might call a slobberknocker. While perusing the internet trying to stumble upon anything interesting about past New York Mets teams, I happened upon Jeromy Burnitz. What’s so interesting about Burnitz? He reminds me of a much more recent member of the Mets, Jay Bruce.

These two have a lot in common. They share initials, each had two stints with the Mets, and were traded away to the Cleveland Indians after their first stint.

Certainly not identical careers, their style of play had many similarities. They were home run-hitting corner outfielders that didn’t exactly meet expectations. Today, I’m curious to see which J.B. was the better Mets player.

The case for Jay Bruce as the better Mets player

In parts of three seasons with the Mets, Bruce accumulated a 1.8 WAR for the team. He was slightly above 0 down the stretch in 2016 when first acquired and an amazing contributor in 2017 when he had a 2.5 WAR before he was traded. Upon his return, he was a much more negative factor in the lineup.

WAR doesn’t tell the full story of Bruce’s time in New York. For this, let’s look at some other numbers.

Bruce fell just shy of 1,000 plate appearances with the Mets at 996. The slash line during his time in orange and blue ended at .237/.312/.442. His 2017 brilliance which included 29 home runs in only 448 plate appearances overshadows anything he accomplished in 2016 and 2018—two very poor seasons on the back of his baseball card.

By the time he was traded, Bruce had 46 home runs and 131 RBI for the Mets.

Bruce was a good fit for the Mets when first acquired. However, upon his return in 2018, it didn’t feel right. I have poorer memories of him with the club because of how recent it was. Is this recency bias or was he a more productive player for the Mets than Burnitz?

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