After playing most of the 2007 season with a knee injury, Jason Bay saw his average draft position fall to 112.88 in 2008, according to Sportsline.com. And then Bay turned around and put up a top-25 hitting season, similar to what he did when healthy in 2005 and 2006. One of the steals of the 2008 draft, Bay will go much sooner than the 11th or 12th round this year.
Most of Bay’s numbers last year matched his career averages. The area that stands out is his FB%, with his numbers showing a steady increase the past few seasons. In 2005, it was 40.6 percent and by 2008 he posted a 46.0 percent flyball rate. Meanwhile, his HR/FB have fluctuated between 11.4 percent in his injury-plagued 2007 season to 18.8 percent in 2006. Last year it was 15 percent, which was below his career rate of 16.4 percent.
Bay hit well after his deadline deal to Boston, as he posted an .897 OPS after the trade. He even hit more flyballs (47.8 percent after the trade) but it resulted in fewer home runs. Bay had nine homers after the deal and six of those came on the road, which suggests that perhaps he had some issues with the Green Monster. It’s more likely a sample size issue and I think fantasy players should not lower their home run projections for him in any meaningful way.
Count on a healthy Bay to provide a .290-30-100 line with 100 runs and 10 steals. And that should be easily good enough to be a top-30 hitter and one of the top 15 outfielders. And if he continues to hit more flyballs and adapts to the Green Monster, a 35-40 HR season is not out of the question.