Mets still power-less

Posted on June 12, 2010 by

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When Jason Bay signed his four-year, $66 million deal last winter, he was expected to cure the Mets ails with the long ball. After all, the Mets hit a measly 95 home runs last year, fewest in the National League.

Bay was fresh off a 36 home run, and 119 RBI season with the Red Sox. He handled the pressure in Boston with poise and aplomb and earned a place on the American League All-Star team.

Sixty-one games into the 2010 season and Bay has three home runs. He’s hit — a .277 batting average and .364 OBP) — he just hasn’t hit home runs. Bay has a streaky history, but Met fans fear what plagued David Wright last year might befall Bay — the Citi Field effect.

Upon closer inspection, Citi Field is not at all to blame. Quite the contrary. All of Bay’s home runs have been at home, with two coming in the same game vs. the Yankees. In fact, he’s been decisively better at Citi Field hitting, batting  .311 with 19 RBI, 21 runs scored and 16 extra base hits.

Bay actually thrives at Citi Field, as does most the team, and loves hitting into the gaps. It’s not like the rest of the team is hitting balls out with more regularity, as Bay’s three Citi Field home runs is only surpassed by Rod Barajas’ five and Ike Davis’ four. In fact, Bay leads the team in total bases at home with 65, eight more than the next closest player (Reyes with 55).

In the off-season, the Mets actually did not want to overspend and pursue Matt Holliday and loved the fact that Bay was a pull hitter, typically better suited for Citi Field. In the last six seasons, Bay has produced at least 21 home runs (eclipsing 30 HR’s five times) and on average 99 RBI’s.

That may be true, but Bay has to pick up the pace if he is to earn his paycheck. The lack of power has to be a concern.

Now, Jerry Manuel is tinkering with his lineup since Bay is mired in a 1-20 slump and actually sat Bay in Thursday’s nightcap against San Diego. He slotted Bay fifth in the order for Friday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.

Despite Bay’s struggles, the Mets are winning (7-2 in June and are now 1.5 games back behind the Braves and in front of the Phillies). Will Manuel’s tinkering with the lineup affect Bay? Will Bay begin to press at the plate? Will the results be better or worse for him?

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