The left field position may be the most uncertain as far as production level goes for the Mets coming into spring training. We know for sure that the job belongs to Jason Bay, but what the Mets will get from him remains to be seen.
Bay will be in the third year of a four-year, $66 million contract with a vesting option for a fifth year which vests if he reaches a certain number of plate appearances. Since signing with the Mets, Bay has hit 18 home runs in 218 games. In his previous 218 games, Bay hit 50 homers. Bay’s OPS was .896 before coming to the Mets. Since then, it’s down to just .723, which is around league average. That’s exactly what Bay has been: average.
Through all the negatives, there are some positives that appeared at the end of last season for Jason. In September, he had an on-base percentage of .392 and a slugging percentage of .563. He also had 10 extra base hits, more than any other month in 2011. He has had streaks like this before at the plate, so the real question for Bay this year will be if September was or wasn’t a fluke.
One of the keys to Bay ressurecting his career just ma lie in how he stands at the plate. Check out this comparison from a Mets Today post about Bay’s swing:
Also check out the post comparing Bay’s stance here. If Bay is able to regain whatever it was he was doing at the left with the Pirates, he could regain his power and live up to the money he got in his contract.
The possibilities are almost endless when it comes to who will replace Jason Bay if he goes down. Lucas Duda or Andres Torres could each move to the left field position. A young outfielder like Matt Den Dekker or Kirk Nieuwenhuis would step into the lineup if that were to happen. Den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis have both showed promise in the minors, showing power and speed. Both have the potential to possibly end up stealing Torres’ presumed center field job.
Overall Grade: D+
The only positives here are the faint glimpse of hope we got from Bay last year and the quality prospects that are behind Jason Bay. At the moment, it seems really unlikely that Bay will regain his pre-Met form and until he does that, he is just an average player. Maybe if he catches fire early, the Mets will be able to flip Bay while his value is high to get rid of his high salary.
Come back next Saturday when I preview the center field position!