First-half Jay Bruce is the best Jay Bruce

It’s tough to find something positive to write about the Mets as they continue to find ways to lose. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say they can’t seem to find ways to win. Either way, in losing to the Braves in walk-off fashion yesterday the Mets fell to a rebuilding team that currently sits above them in the standings. Let that sink in for a minute.

Last week I wrote that the season isn’t over and that there’s reason to hope that the pitching staff can get on the right track. Since that writing, the team has gone 2-3 with a team ERA of 5.61, a WHIP of 1.66, an xFIP of 4.23, and a BA against of .314. In those five games the offense put up a wRC+ of 125, good for fourth best in baseball over the last seven days. Pretty much par for the course this season, when you get down to it.

No amount of placation is going to change the fact that it’s getting late early. But hey, Jay Bruce!

The much maligned outfielder was an easy villain heading into the season because of how awful he played for the team after they traded for him last year. His performance was a huge question mark and source of fan ire, particularly since it was clear that the team’s failure to trade him during the off-season solidified his starting role to open the season.

What has Bruce done so far this year? He’s slashing .255/.325/.518 through 55 games with 15 home runs, 40 RBI, and a wRC+ of 123. That’s pretty good, and it’s more than most folks were expecting. He’s been a very solid contributer to an offense that’s been better than it was last year through as many games. It’s something to cheer about in a season with very little to show for the expectations heading into it. Well, it’s something positive for now, anyway.

I’m loathe to be the bearer of bad news given the team’s current state, but in researching Bruce’s performance it became clear that there’s danger on the horizon. Specifically, Bruce is climbing towards the top of a familiar mountain from which he’ll inevitably tumble as the season progresses. The table below outlines a few stats for his career and breaks them down by first- and second-half performances for each season.

Season
AVG
OPS
HR
wRC+
1st 2nd 1st 2nd 1st 2nd 1st 2nd
2008 .270 .244 .765 .768 6 15 97 96
2009 .207 .326 .725 1.078 18 4 84 182
2010 .266 .306 .785 .951 10 15 108 151
2011 .268 .241 .852 .764 21 11 129 106
2012 .249 .255 .831 .853 18 16 116 124
2013 .277 .239 .832 .768 19 11 124 106
2014 .229 .201 .719 .568 10 8 98 53
2015 .251 .199 .806 .644 13 13 116 66
2016 .267 .226 .853 .762 18 15 119 99
2017 .255 ? .843 ? 15 ? 123 ?

With a few exceptions, Bruce has performed worse in the second half than in the first half for most of his career. The last few seasons in particular have seen his second-half performance plummet fairly dramatically. What does this mean for the Mets? Well, they should certainly ride out his success as long as they can during the season’s first half. If any team shows even a glimmer of interest near the deadline, however, then they should send him packing. Whether or not the team is selling by that point should be irrelevant, as Bruce will do them more harm than good should he be on the roster beyond July 31st.

3 comments for “First-half Jay Bruce is the best Jay Bruce

  1. Metsense
    June 10, 2017 at 9:11 am

    Jay Bruce is on his way to a 30+ home run, 100+ RBI season. Bruce is also very durable averaging 151 games over the last five years. I would choose him over Duda to be my 2018 first baseman because he is younger,more versatile in that he can play the outfield, and he has no health issues. Bruce is having a very Jay Bruce like season and there is nothing wrong with that. Dominic Smith is 22 years old and will be placed on the 40 Man Roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 draft and then have three option years. If they sell at this deadline Bruce and his $13M salary will not bring in a top prospect.

  2. June 11, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Bruce has fooled everyone and has surpassed expectations.

    The funny thing is that the Mets need him, but yet, won’t be signing him either after this year.
    RF stands for “Right For” Conforto. So, Bruce will not be on the roster in 2018. Therefore, Mets have to trade him if they want to get something for him. If I am Sandy, I hold out for a very good Bullpen arm and maybe a 2nd level prospect.
    If I cannot get that, then it is best for the Mets to keep Bruce and keep him on a tear toward 40 HR’s and 100 RBI’s. Mets will not go easy, they will fight for a WC. Whether they make it or not is another thing, but they will fight. May as well keep Bruce for the fight if they cannot get what they need. Good guy Bruce. Hope he gets $20m or so as a FA, just please go to the AL !!

  3. Eraff
    June 11, 2017 at 9:25 am

    9 Years…. 4x OPS is higher in 2nd Half…playing for a team that is in the toilet (Cincinatti) in a Lineup of Fill-ins….

    Duda…Bruce…”The Box that Jay is Bringing down the Aisle”???

    The two players are virtually inseperable with 780-800 lifetime OPS. I’ve always expected more from Bruce….and I actually believe Lucas has more interesting bat skills…but lacking the mentality— 3000-5000 ab’s does define a certain “Is-Ness”….. Jay has some “other skills” with Legs and Glove that make him a better player, and a guy I’d prefer for one one more year or so.

    There will be a question of signability—and I’d hunch that a discounted Jay might be attractive to his hometown Reds. He’s young enough and has durable HR Pop that makes for a good Home Town Guy.

    Smith needs to do more to earn a Red Carpet to a team that should contend…but it’s not like He’s pushing a Freddie Freeman off the spot

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