Monday, March 12, 2012

Its Time For Jason Bay To Change His Approach At The Plate

Photo Courtesy Of Michael Baron
For a player who admittedly spent the majority of the off-season working on his hitting, Jason Bay has looks suspiciously familiar to the guy Mets fans have had to endure the past two years. I say endure because Bay has struggled mightily since arriving in Queens on a four year, $66 million dollar deal. The Mets haven't gotten there money's worth thus far, but hoped the reconfigured dimensions of Citi Field might change that. So far, things still don't look good.

In five games so far this spring, Bay has only one hit in ten at bats. More importantly, he has five strikeouts in that time. While this is undoubtedly a small sample size, it appears the Mets may be in for more of the same from Bay if things don't change.

Jason Bay's decline is not exclusive to his time with the Mets. Although he maintained his power numbers in his final season in Boston, Bay saw his batting average drop from .293 to .267. That trend has continued, with Bay hitting to a .259 average in 2010 and then a lowly .245 in 2011. The Mets will need much more than that from their left fielder in 2012 if they are to tread water in the NL East.

Personally, I throw Bay's power numbers in Boston out the window. Hitting into the Green Monster is nothing like hitting at Citi Field. Furthermore, at 33 years of age Bay is entering into the twilight of his career anyway. Like many before him that acted in the interest of extending his career, its time for Bay to adjust his approach at the plate.

How that change might occur is well beyond my pay grade, but Bay's above average defense is still welcomed at the Major League level, so it will be his offense that sees him out of baseball if things don't change in short order. As someone who used to hit .280 or better on a yearly basis, Bay should look to drive the gaps at this point in his career as opposed to hitting home runs.

While such an adjustment won't provide the Mets with the power they're paying for, it will make him more of a threat in the lineup. If over swinging in the interest of hitting home runs is forcing him to strike out, the team should put emphasis on a change in approach this spring. Hitting fifth in the order, Bay will see his fare share of RBI opportunities. At this point, singles and doubles will certainly do more for the team in those spots than the under-performance we've become accustomed to.

Jason Bay has been given plenty of time to work this out himself. Its time now for the Mets to address it so he's had a few weeks to let those adjustments settle in before these at-bats count for much much more.

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