Jason Raymond Bay (Jay-Ray-Bay, eh?) was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Montreal Expos. He was traded by then-Expos GM Omar Minaya to the Mets in 2002, although he didn't last a full season in the Mets' minor-league system. Bay was then traded during the 2002 season to the San Diego Padres, the team for which he made his major league debut in 2003.
Unfortunately, his major league career in San Diego lasted all of eight at-bats, where he collected two hits in those eight at-bats (a double and a home run). He was then traded to Pittsburgh during the 2003 season, where he picked up another 79 at-bats and continued to rack up extra-base hits (six doubles, one triple, three home runs).
The Pirates gave Bay an everyday job in 2004 and he rewarded their faith in him by putting up spectacular numbers. In only 120 games, Bay hit .282 with 26 HR and 82 RBI. His tremendous first full season in the majors earned him the National League Rookie of The Year Award.
He followed up his ROY campaign with an even better season. In 2005, Bay played in all 162 games, finishing with MVP-caliber numbers (.306 average, 44 doubles, six triples, 32 HR, 101 RBI, 110 runs scored, 21 SB).
Other than a fluke 2007 season in which Bay hit .247 with only 21 HR and 84 RBI, he has hit at least 30 HR and scored and driven in at least 100 runs in every season since 2005. He has also reached double digits in stolen bases in every season since 2005 except for the aforementioned 2007 season.
Although his strikeout total may be high (at least 129 strikeouts in each of his six full seasons in the majors), he makes up for it by drawing many walks. Other than the 2007 season, Bay has averaged 93 walks per season since 2005, including 94 bases on balls last season with the Red Sox.
Jason Bay gives the Mets their best leftfielder since the days of Kevin McReynolds. He plays every day and puts up solid numbers year after year. For the stat-freaks, here are some juicy numbers for you.
- Over his career, Jason Bay is a .343 hitter with a runner on third and less than two outs (62-for-181).
- With a runner on third and exactly two outs, Bay is a .283 career hitter (45-for-159). In 2009, the Mets as a team hit .186 (55-for-296) in such situations.
- Bay is extremely clutch when there are multiple men on base. With at least two men on base (first and second, first and third, second and third, bases loaded), Bay is a career .316 hitter (161-for-509).
- Bay will probably hit fifth in the Mets lineup (assuming the Mets' top four hitters are Reyes, Castillo, Beltran and Wright). In the five-hole, Bay has accumulated 596 at-bats in his career, or the equivalent of a full season. In those 596 at-bats, Bay has hit .307, with 32 HR and 120 RBI, numbers very similar to Robin Ventura's stats in 1999 when he helped lead the Mets to the playoffs (588 at-bats, .301, 32 HR, 120 RBI).
Jason Bay will be the Mets leftfielder for at least four years. For all the naysayers who wish to question his defense, please note that Bay did not make a single error in 2009 and collected 15 outfield assists. His experience playing in front of the Green Monster at Fenway Park should help him play the high left field wall at Citi Field.
Bay is a player who takes the field every day, hits in the clutch and plays better defense than you think. The Mets felt that they had 66 million reasons to bring him to Citi Field. The fans hope that will be enough to spark some life into the Mets offense. Welcome to New York, Jason Bay!