Comparing Jason Bay and other Mets free agent hitters

When the Mets signed Jason Bay, he was going to be the slugger in the middle of the lineup who essentially replaced Carlos Delgado in the lineup. Then he didn’t hit for power and had his season cut short due to a concussion. Now fans are looking for any reason to feel confident about a bounce-back season.

I think of Carlos Beltran and how he had a poor season his first year after signing with the Mets as a free agent and then had a monster year in his second season. So, I decided to go back and look at all of the big-ticket free agents the Mets signed and see how they did in Year 1 and Year 2 with the franchise. Was Beltran’s experience typical or an outlier? Here are free agent hitters signed by the club since 1980:

Vince Coleman
Year 1 — .255/.347/.327
Year 2 — .275/.355/.358

Eddie Murray
Year 1 — .261/.336/.423
Year 2 — .285/.325/.467

Bobby Bonilla
Year 1 — .249/.348/.432
Year 2 — .265/.352/.522

Lance Johnson
Year 1 — .333/.362/.479
Year 2 — .309/.385/.404

Robin Ventura
Year 1 — .301/.379/.529
Year 2 — .232/.338/.439

Todd Zeile
Year 1 — .268/.356/.467
Year 2 — .266/.359/.373

Roger Cedeno
Year 1 — .260/.318/.346
Year 2 — .267/.320/.378

Cliff Floyd
Year 1 — .290/.376/.518
Year 2 — .260/.352/.462

Mike Cameron
Year 1 — .231/.319/.479
Year 2 — .273/.342/.477

Carlos Beltran
Year 1 — .266/.330/.414
Year 2 — .275/.388/.594

Jose Valentin
Year 1 — .271/.330/.490
Year 2 — .241/.302/.373

Moises Alou
Year 1 — .341/.392/.524
Year 2 — .347/.389/.388

Alex Cora
Year 1 — .251/.320/.310
Year 2 — .207/.265/.278

Big Year 2 gainers (OPS increase of 50+ points) – Bonilla, Beltran
Big Year 2 losers (OPS decrease of 50+ points) – Johnson, Ventura, Zeile, Floyd, Valentin, Alou, Cora

Nine of 13 free agents saw an OPS change of 50 or more points between their first two seasons with the Mets and eight of those were over 75 points. Unfortunately, only two of those saw a positive increase. But both of those players last name’s started with “B” so maybe there’s hope for Bay yet. The other thing those two players had in common is that they were the youngest of our nine big movers. Bonilla was 29-30 in the two seasons while Beltran was 28-29.

Bay will be 32 this season.

While this comparison does not give much hope for a Bay rebound, we should keep in mind that he has been a consistently good hitter throughout his major league career. In five of his six seasons prior to 2010, Bay had an OPS of .895 or better. The one season he did not, Bay battled knee injuries and put up a .746 OPS. The following year he put up a .286/.373/.522 line.

I think we would sign up for that in a minute.

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