Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wait Til Next Year- New York Mets

Sometimes in baseball, certain signings have much more of an impact than expected. Coming to the right team, playing in the right city, or competing in the right ballpark can sometimes suit players perfectly- a match made in heaven. I’d like to think that AT&T Park is just what Aubrey Huff needed to revive his career, at least for one year.

Jason Bay and the New York Mets seem to be exactly the opposite. Whether it’s the pressure of New York or the dimensions of Citi Field, Bay’s power has disappeared in 2010. Bay and the Mets, at least in 2010, have been a match made in hell.

Bay has been a consistent power threat since his days as a Pirate, with 2010 marking the only season in the last six that he won’t hit more than 20 home runs. In four of those seasons, he had more than 30. However, Bay hit only six home runs in 2010 before going on the DL with concussion problems that have since forced the Mets to shut him down for the season on July 26th.

Citi Field has been reasonably stingy to home run hitters in 2010, with a one-year home run park factor of .706. This means that 30% less balls leave Citi Field than a league-average ballpark. This could be a partial source of Bay’s power problem, but it hasn’t stopped other Mets such as David Wright and Ike Davis from hitting some bombs, and Bay’s home runs have come as often at home as away, with 3 home runs at Citi and 3 on the road.

Bay has posted a career HR/FB rate of 15.8%. In 2010, he couldn’t even muster a third of that, with 5.1% of his fly balls leaving the yard. This tells me one of three things must have happened. Either Citi’s dimensions are specifically and exactly the worst possible setup for Bay, he’s stopped eating his Wheaties and reverted to Juan Pierre power, or Bay has simply been unlucky and his fly balls have died on the warning track. Mets fans can probably bank on door number three, meaning Bay’s return should bring a healthy dose of power with it.

So wait til next year, Mets fans, but know that your big 2010 acquisition will likely start to pay dividends in 2011. Check back tomorrow, when we’ll be looking at two young hurlers in the Tigers’ organization.

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