Jason Bay’s Missing (But Reemerging?) Power

In light of Jason Bay‘s recent hot streak — he’s hitting .307/.374/.466 over the last month — and two homerun game last night, some fans are beginning to wonder if the pre-Mets version of Jason Bay is finally beginning to show up. After all, Bay had posted above a .385 wOBA in four of the five seasons prior to signing with the Mets; his bat can’t disappear overnight, can it? Considering that Bay has now played 155 games with the Mets, take a look at how his line compares with the average for the rest of his career:

When you look at his numbers in this light, his problem becomes immediately obvious: his power has completely evaporated. He’s still walking at a similar rate (10-11%), striking out at a similar rate (25%), hitting around 90 singles per 600 PA, making contact with a similar number of pitches (75%), and having balls fall in for hits at around his career average rate (.320 BABIP). Literally the only difference between the Old Bay (mmm!) and New Bay is his utter lack of power: his homerun total has plummeted, dragging his batting average down, and he’s also hitting fewer doubles. While Bay used to be good for 30+ homerun per season, the Mets have only gotten a total of 43 extra base hits out of him so far.

This conclusion leads me to two important questions: how much is Citi Field to blame for Bay’s loss of power, and is Bay’s recent surge a sign of good things to come?

Sadly, both these questions are easy to answer. Citi Field is huge and it’s only natural to expect Bay to lose some power in that stadium, but dropping such an extreme number of doubles and homeruns speaks to a change in that player’s talent level more than anything. This question would be easy to answer in-depth with┬áHit F/x if we had access to it — one day, right? — but it’s also rather easy to see the difference when you look at Bay’s spray charts over the past three seasons:

While Bay spent the 2009 season in Boston, his spray chart has been overlaid on Citi Field for ease of comparison.

Where have all those deep fly balls gone? Looking at it this way, Bay isn’t driving the ball as far as he used to, especially this season. Sure, Citi Field would have taken away a couple of his homeruns from 2009, but those likely would have turned into deep doubles instead.

As for Bay’s recent surge, I’m not optimistic that this success is a sign that he’s put things together. Enjoy his hot streak while it’s around, Mets fans, but his success looks very unsustainable to me. His line over the last month is boosted by a .359 BABIP, which is sure to regress at some point, and Bay isn’t exactly crushing the ball — his main problem is his lack of power, and he’s still not driving the ball that far.

Bay has four homeruns over the last 30 days, but he hasn’t hit a single double (and only one triple) over that time period. His slugging percentage has been boosted by his higher batting average, and his .159 ISO over the last 30 days is still a far cry away from his pre-Mets .239 ISO.

I want Bay to rebound and recapture some of his former glory — I’m one of those fanboys that took a flyer on him in fantasy — but this recent hot streak isn’t enough to convince me he’s back. He needs to start driving the ball with more consistency and rack up some more extra base hits; until he can do that, Bay’s looking more and more like a $16 million albatross.



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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.


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vivalajeter
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vivalajeter
5 years 2 months ago

Both of yesterday’s HR’s were well struck – a liner to left-center, and an opposite field HR later on in the game. Aside from those two swings, you’re right. A lot of his recent hits are soft liners and ground balls. He’s just not ripping the ball like he used to. It’s weird though – his swing looks extremely quick, but he rarely hits the ball square on.

I do wonder how much of it is in his head (I’m talking about pressure/expectations, not the concussion). As he regains confidence and starts to believe in his bat speed again, maybe he’ll make better contact.

juan pierre's mustache
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juan pierre's mustache
5 years 2 months ago

the chart is a little confusing because it’s comparing a half season to 2 full seasons so it at first looks like he lost like 75% of his batted balls to the outfield. perhaps it says something that i thought it was the same sample size at first and still wasn’t remotely surprised at the results

Neuter Your Dogma
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Neuter Your Dogma
5 years 2 months ago

Higher GB% too.

scotman144
Member
Member
scotman144
5 years 2 months ago

oof, only slugging .466 during this absurd hot streak…..so glad Boston didn’t re-sign him.

SiddFinch
Guest
SiddFinch
5 years 2 months ago

That Old Bay crab cake is hilariously awesome.

Derek
Guest
Derek
5 years 2 months ago

Problem with “examining” his hot streak would be you didn’t really frame it successfully. Since July 15th he’s hitting .347/.405/.542/.947. Or since June 21st he’s hitting .353/.431/.627/1.058. Of course, that doesn’t change that it’s aided with a high BABIP stretch (If anything though, that was probably a correction for his first 2 months), it also doesn’t change the fact that he hasn’t shown much power outside of those 4 home runs. But at this point, progress is progress.

saberbythebay
Guest
5 years 2 months ago

“(If anything though, that was probably a correction for his first 2 months)”
Unfortunately, that’s not how the law of averages works. Low BABIP before doesn’t mean he’s any more likely to be able to sustain a high BABIP later.

Brian Singer
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Brian Singer
5 years 2 months ago

The law of averages is a meaningless concept.

What do you really mean?

William
Member
William
5 years 2 months ago

bay – lackey trade would solve everything

Brian
Guest
Brian
5 years 2 months ago

We need a copy of his health chart that indicated he had failing knees. The Red Sox medical staff viewed Bay as a player who was inclined for multiple dl stints. There’s a major difference between a super healthy athletes such as Crawford inducing a hamstring strain from running the bases at Olympic speed compared to a degenerate/ongoing knee problem.

pft
Guest
pft
5 years 2 months ago

Bay should have his bats tested. Might be a conspiracy to discourage teams from spending big on FA’s by making their bats are softer (MLB now certifies bat suppliers so they have clout). Look at Dunn, Bay, Figgins, Crawford, Manny, etc. Lots of money down the drain the past couple of years.

Seriously, Bays approach at the plate looks nothing like it did when he was with Boston. When he hit HR’s they were bombs, in fact, he hit more HR on the road than at Fenway since the wall took away HR’s from him (balls that would have went 400 ft elsewhere).

He looks smaller as well. Too bad weights for players are so unreliable to be worse than useless. He needs to spend more time in the weight room.

Shaun Catron
Guest
Shaun Catron
5 years 2 months ago

Jason Bay’s power should be in one of those “Wheres Waldo?” books

Ken
Member
Ken
5 years 2 months ago

The spray charts also show him not pulling the ball nearly as frequently, something I believe the Mets have stressed to their hitters (well, I know they did under Minaya, not sure about Alderson). That could also account for a power drain in a big way. You wonder how long it would take to go back to being a pull hitter after someone tinkered with you for an entire year (assuming that the current regime is just letting him do his thing).

Anon
Guest
Anon
5 years 2 months ago

Thanks, Omar!

Kyle
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Kyle
5 years 2 months ago

People thinking he’d have been this pathetic in Boston don’t get it. Not only did he change leagues and teams, but the ballpark isn’t conducive to hitting homeruns. Look at how few players are successful there(Fenway is a hitter’s paradise.) And Bay with his knees is more of a part time outfielder at this time. I thought he’d bring the Mets about 25 to 30 homeruns, and was completely wrong. But Boston has blown far too much money on the likes of Lackey when everyone knew he was done, Crawford(people knew he was overpaid and wouldn’t do as well), and brought in scrubs like Jenks. Bay would be a better option than Drew or Cameron as a fourth outfielder, occasional starter in left and obviously a DH against a lefty over Ortiz. His average and power have already started to decline after his hot start.

Bay got overpaid, and considering the way he performed stepping in for a future hall of famer before he was busted for roids twice, he deserved it. He hadn’t gotten his payday yet. And the New York Mets aren’t the best at scouting talent, age and their potential decline or even signing people to fill in the parts they need.

Jon
Guest
Jon
5 years 2 months ago

All this talk about Jason Bay’s knees and being more of a part-time outfielder, yet he’s been running well for the Mets and playing respectably in the big Citi Field outfield.

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