Bay is Back

I know I am a little late to post about this, but I promise I’m not just joining the bandwagon.

Anyway, since being benched for two straight days, Jason Bay has been on a tear. He is hitting .347 with four home runs and 17 rbi’s in 18 games. (thank you SNY for doing that math for me ; – ) )

I have been waiting for this day (stretch?) since the day we signed him, and, as much as I can’t prove it, I’ve continued to expect it to happen since the day we signed him. I know he has been awful for the Mets, but you don’t just forget how to play baseball. How often does a player go from career averages of 20+ home runs and a .270 average, to 6 home runs and a .210 average? Maybe, just maybe, at the twilight of your career, but not at the age of 31.

After his first dreadful season, I thought of David Wright. In his first season in Citi Field he failed to hit double digit home runs. It seemed the ballpark got in his head. The following season, David fixed the problem and returned to being the type of hitter we expect him to be. Was it that far-fetched that a guy who just signed a big contract for a team in a big market was having the same struggles? This season Bay started out poorly again, but the guy was coming off a rib injury to start the season, and after struggling early, started to come apart at the seams. He was playing poorly, and with all the attention he was getting, he was pressing to break out.

After a particularly poor stretch Collins decided to sit him down. This move received a lot of scrutiny, but I didn’t think it was a bad idea. When all you’re doing is thinking about ways to adjust your swing, sometimes just forgetting about it is the best idea. (It’s similar to those times you lose track of your conversation. When you actively try to remember what you were going to say, it never comes to you. When you finally forget about it and move on, you suddenly remember) I was hoping this could apply to Bay. So far, it looks like it is paying off.

With his recent success (I understand 20 games is a small sample size with 162 games in a season, but he has never had this kind of stretch for the Mets. Think about it: 4 home runs in 20 games, as opposed to 8 in the other 135 games he has played in) I began to think of Carlos Delgado. Remember him? After a good 2006 season, Delgado was flat out terrible. He continued this poor play and power outage until the middle of the 2008 season. At that point he went wild. In the second half of the season he hit close to .400 and hit a home run every other day. (Ok that was an exaggeration…but it felt like that. Every time we needed a big hit, he came through. Part of me wonders if he had to sell his soul for that type of production, or at least the rest of his baseball career. The following season he got hurt early and hasn’t made it back to the majors.) He almost got the Mets into the playoffs that season by himself. So if Delgado could have that type of turnaround, maybe Bay can too.  Let’s just hope his career doesn’t end next season.

If Bay can continue to produce at this level, the Mets could climb back in this race. I don’t think this is ridiculous to expect either. It might be a small sample size, but this streak isn’t all about luck. He clearly looks more confident at the plate. He isn’t rushing his swing, and is staying strong on his back leg. I feel the only reason I refuse to state he has turned it around is I’m afraid to jinx it. That and the Mets have a nasty habit of messing things up just as you start to believe in them. (maybe I should learn from this and refuse to believe in them no matter how well they do. Even if they are 7 games up with 17 left to play, I should just refuse to believe they’ll make the playoffs)

I understand the Mets are teetering around .500 and that screams mediocrity, but after that terrible 5-13 stretch to start the season, they have gone 39-29, posting a winning record in both May and June. That is with Bay doing nothing, and Wright, Davis and Santana on the DL. The Mets are in the top 3 in almost every offensive category, with the big exceptions being home runs and total runs. With the possibility of Wright and Bay adding more pop, the Mets are likely to see vast improvements in both categories. Who knows, we might get lucky for the first time since ’69 and have Davis come back this season too.

Perhaps all of this is a little too optimistic for 20 good games from one player, but the team has given me reason to hope. For the first time in a while they are playing the game the right way. They are taking the extra base, coming back late in games, getting two out hits, working the count in their favor. It pains me to know that despite all of that, they might not have the talent to make the playoffs. I’m not a real religious person, but for some reason I’m a believer in sports karma. I just feel a team that plays the game right should make the playoffs.

Leave a Comment