The Most Disappointing Met


Let’s play a game using two players. We’re going to call one “Player A” and the other “Anthony Michael Hall,” really for no reason in particular . . . we‘ll go with “AMH” for short. See if you can decide who is having a better season. Here are their basic numbers:

Player A* 329 295 45 76 18 0 13 45 32 76 .258 .331 .451
AMH 378 326 47 86 19 6 6 44 43 81 .264 .354 .414
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/20/2010.

Player A has a substantial lead in home runs, while Anthony Michael Hall holds a sizable lead in walks and triples. Player A has the advantage in slugging, Player AMH in on-base percentage. AMH has come to the plate about 50 more times, but everything else is just about even between the two.

But there are a few other things worth comparing.

– Player A has stolen one base this season; AMH is a perfect ten for ten in stolen base attempts.

– Neither player fields at a position that stresses defense, but Player A has saved +3 runs defensively by UZR and +8 runs by Plus/Minus at first base. AHM has cost his team -2 runs by UZR and -3 runs by Plus/Minus in left field.

– Player A has driven in runs more efficiently than AMH. Player A has come to the plate with 225 runners on base and has 45 RBI; Player AMH has come to the plate with 251 runners on base and has 44 RBI.

Player A has an advantage in power and defense, but AMH has the advantage in speed and getting on-base — these differences just about balance each other out. You would be hard pressed to prove that one player has been significantly better than the other.

OK. It should be possible by now to guess that “Player A” is Ike Davis, and “Player Anthony Michael Hall” is Jason Bay. All things considered, Davis and Bay have performed about equally this season.

But that’s outside of any context. Within the context of expectations, Ike Davis has been a pleasant surprise at first base, while Jason Bay has been an unpleasant pile of disappointment in left field. Considering that the two players have posted fairly similar numbers, that one is having a down year while the other is not may seem weird. But expectations color everything.

It’s not that Jason Bay has been awful — he’s been anything but awful. Bay is second on the Mets in walks, third in runs scored, second in doubles, and is tied for the team lead in triples. His ten steals without being caught tie him with Adam Kennedy for the most steals without a CS in the National League. Bay’s OPS+ sits at 107, and he’s held his own defensively in left field. It’s hard to describe that as an awful performance. Not great for a left fielder maybe, but not awful.

On a team that is ahead of only the Pirates and Astros in their league for team on-base percentage — a Mets team that has semi-regularly featured a lineup with three or four players posting sub-.300 on-base percentages, not including the pitcher — it’s hard to point to Jason Bay and his .354 OBP mark and say that he’s the problem with the offense.

But Jason Bay is certainly not having a typical Jason Bay season. He has scored over 100 runs, driven in over 100 runs, and hit over 30 home runs in every full season of his career, the exception being his injury plagued 2007; Bay has just 47 runs scored, 44 runs driven in, and has hit 6 home runs in a season which is now more than half over. His on-base percentage sits about 20 points lower than his career mark, and his slugging percentage sits about 100 points lower. So, yeah, Bay hasn’t been awful when compared to the average major league hitter — when rookie Ike Davis is compared to that sort of performance, Davis looks pretty good. However, when Jason Bay’s 2010 is compared to what has been the norm for Jason Bay, the comparison quickly becomes less favorable.

Bay’s season is like a bad Rolling Stones album. On one hand, something like “It’s Only Rock and Roll” would be a good effort for just about anyone else . . . but because they’re capable of so much more, it’s a disappointment. It’s expecting a four-and-a-half or five star album and getting a three star album. There’s nothing truly awful about it — six triples! ten steals! — but relative to expectations, it’s a massive let down. That’s Jason Bay’s season. He has hit like a decent two-hitter, but the Mets expected a cleanup guy. Plus, Bay can’t even blame this three star performance on Keith Richards’ drug problems . . . I think.

But until recently, Bay and his struggles have remained mostly hidden, or at least obscured by the greater failings of those around him. Much like Jeff Francoeur, Bay supposedly has the sort of friendly and accessible demeanor that keeps the traditional media off him; unlike Frenchy, Bay has played well enough to keep the blogosphere off him as well. It’s also helped that Bay has been surrounded by out machines Francoeur, Ruben Tejada, Alex Cora, and Rod Barajas; he only began to hear boos during the last homestand. When a bunch of kids are eating paste in the back of the classroom, it’s the quietly struggling one in the front who tends to be overlooked for better or worse. There have been bigger things to complain about all season.

Unfortunately for Bay, the paste-eaters are mostly gone. Carlos Beltran has displaced Francoeur, while Jose Reyes and Luis Castillo have mostly displaced the Cora/Tejada out-party. Those are massive offensive upgrades. Rod Barajas is still around, but I assume that he HAS to improve or Josh Thole will displace him. But for the most part, the Mets have the band back together again. If they want to compete down the stretch, they need to start scoring runs. Beltran will help massively. Castillo will help less massively. But if Bay doesn’t figure it out soon, he’s suddenly going to be front and center. The Mets offense has been bad, Bay hasn’t helped much, and there’s nowhere left for him to hide.

Jason Bay hasn’t been one of the awful Mets this season. Not even close. However, for fans with realistic expectations, Bay may be the most disappointing. Hitting like Ike Davis is cool when you’re Ike Davis; when you’re Jason Bay, it’s much less so.

Image via Slgckgc’s Flickr.


Filed under Columns, Mets, Words

11 responses to “The Most Disappointing Met

  1. Ceetar

    >The other thing is Ike Davis has shown signs that the's coming out of a down period, whereas Bay may have a couple of singlefests, but doesn't really do much.Working hard has a lot to do with it. And his running hard has rewarded him with two infield hits recently, and that helps. Maybe the offense will start to click with Reyes and Beltran, and he'll find his groove and start contributing and it'll all be a wash.

  2. Patrick Flood

    >@ CeetarWell, Bay runs everything out too. I forgot to mention that, but I think that helps him avoid too much negative attention as well.I would guess that Bay will recover, because it's almost always a better bet that a player will return to his normal levels, but we'll see. I said the same things about David Wright all last season — only I wasn't writing this blog then so you'll have to take my word for it.

  3. GDHebner

    >Assuming (dangerous I know) that Bay returns to normal form for roughly the balance of his contract suddenly the Mets look like geniuses for paying him a "mere" $8.625 mil this year. That's the best spin I can put on Bay's contract and his 2010 season so far.

  4. dave crockett

    >Much like David Wright in 2009, the only thing really missing from Bay is the pop. Of course, that's why we got him. So, bully for us. It's just so weird to be going through this again after Wright last year. Like Wright, Bay is cleaning up in virtually every column except HRs & 2Bs. After seeing this two consecutive years with players featuring reasonably similar profiles (righty sluggers, power mostly down the line and to the alleys), I wonder if maybe we are learning more and more about Citi-specific effects. Maybe it takes guys with that profile a year to settle in.

  5. Anonymous

    >Another fine article, Professor Flood, and exactly right about the effect of failed expectations. Bay was brought in to be a big stick in the lineup, a replacement for what Carlos Delgado used to provide. As I recall it, the field of available free agent big sticks was not so flush last off season, and the choice seemed to come down to Bay or Matt Holiday. For reasons not all that relevant to this discussion, the Mets got Bay. His career numbers suggest that although he may not be a Delgado-like bruiser, if Jason Bay were hitting up to his "normal" level, he'd be making a big difference for the Mets this season. There was the (not unreasonable) expectation that would happen and it hasn't. You're right, too, about the other dimmer lights around him in the lineup helping to hide Bay's low watt performance and keeping him from bearing the full brunt of the fan's displeasure, as well as the benefit of a more charitable evaluation he derives from being a positive attitude type player. That situation is changing now, as you noted. The current debacle of a road trip, made possible in large part by a depressingly impotent offense, throws a harsh light on Bay's continuing struggles. Ironically, he's hitting about as well as anyone on the team these last five games, but everyone has pretty much sucked, so it's not enough. He's supposed to provide more.A side note regarding the nifty Rolling Stones/"It's Only Rock and Roll" reference – by the time that album came out, the Stones were about done. Oh sure, they released some more albums of new material after that and had a few highlights along the way, and they're still out there embarrassing themselves on stage to this very day, but their best was already behind them back then in the mid-seventies. It may be your analogy of the current production of Jason Bay to that album is more accurate than most Met fans would like to think about.

  6. Patrick Flood

    >@ Dave Crockett:Yeah, I've been wondering the same thing about Bay, if what happened to Wright is happening to him. They're both right-handed sluggers whose power inexplicably disappeared.I'm starting to suspect that, while Citi Field lowers power numbers, it might also raise batting averages. There's almost no foul territory, and the outfielders have to cover so much more ground deep that they might be letting some more bloopers fall in shallow. So maybe a "bad year" is transformed by Citi Field to look like a dramatic power decrease, accompanied by batting averages artificially staying at a normal level — whereas if it happened in another ballpark, both power and average would decrease equally.

  7. Patrick Flood

    >@ Anonymous 3:15I personally like "Some Girls" and "Tattoo You," so I don't mark the Stones real decline coming until post-"Tattoo You."Actually, isn't a decent chunk of "Tattoo You" just leftovers from earlier sessions? I guess that would place their decline before that. Maybe "Some Girls" is where the steepest drop off occurs.Either way, I certainly hope Bay has at least a "Some Girls" left in the tank.

  8. Anonymous

    >A better spin on "It's Only Rock and Roll" (and maybe Jason Bay's '10 season) is to see it as not so much a failure to meet expectations as fair warning that expectations need to be lowered.There were many peaks and valleys in the Stones' career. For me, the last great peak was the namesake of this blog, but the greatest was "Beggar's Banquet".

  9. Patrick Flood

    >@ Anonymous 5:23I like your version of Jason Bay as "It's Only Rock and Roll" better than mine."Exile on Main St." is my favorite album, but I actually think their greatest collection of songs is "Sticky Fingers." The problem is "Sticky Fingers" sounds like just that: a great collection of songs. Nothing really ties it all together as a great album.

  10. Anonymous

    >I was thinking about this post while watching the game last night. The truth of your observations regarding the disappointing year of Jason Bay and the comparison of him with Ike Davis were proved in the first inning, when both had an at-bat with the bases full. Both struck out and so both were a disappointment, but there was more bitterness in Bay's failure. With Ike my feeling was something along the lines of, "Too bad, but there will be other games when he's given this opportunity, and he'll have his moment." With Bay my reaction was, "Last year he would have homered, or doubled. A few years back, with Pittsburgh against the Mets, he would have come through and driven in the runs. What's wrong with this guy? He's being paid millions of dollars to deliver in just these kind of situations, and he's not delivering." If either Ike or Bay had come through in that situation, the game would have followed a completely different track. The Mets would have been pumped up and the young Diamondback pitcher would have been on the ropes right at the start of the game. Instead, the Mets are immediately reminded of how badly they're struggling, how unproductive the middle of their lineup has been, and the rookie pitcher gets a confidence boost by turning back a bases loaded, one-out threat. In retrospect, the game was lost right there. The most disappointing Met then goes on to add another strikeout and a double play to his contributions for the night.Watching the Mets right now is an exercise in hopeless futility. There's plenty of culpability to go around, but Jason Bay is at the heart of it. He was brought in to be the big stick, the home run guy, the run producer. Right now, he's none of those things.Final thought – watching last night's game it came to me that the perfect visual image for the way the Amazin's are playing right now would be to see William H. Macy in a Met uniform.

  11. Patrick Flood

    >I was really pulling for Bay in the first inning. Right there would have been a nice time for him to break out, but he's just lost.But you're right. When Davis struck out, I found myself thinking, "Oh well, he's still just a rookie. Can't expect him to come through every time." When Bay struck out, it just somehow seemed more maddening.

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