Breaking news: Jason Bay is not an automatic out

Tuesday night Jason Bay had a triple and a home run in the same game. It was the first time all year he had two extra-base hits in a game. Of course, you have to have at least two hits in a game to have a shot at that and Bay has had multiple hit games just 11 times in 48 games this year.

When Bay made his 2011 debut, he started on fire. In his first six games, he had a .391/.440/.609 slash line and the Mets were 6-0. Given the poor start the club endured in his absence, many articles were written about how Bay was the key to the lineup. Of course, he went 1-17 in his next four games, setting the stage for his dismal 2011, to date.

Between April 28th and June 13th, a stretch of 36 games and 151 PA, Bay posted a .173/.280/.213 line. It’s good to have a multi-year guaranteed contract because those are the type of numbers over an extended period of time that wind most people up with a permanent spot on the bench. Of course, there were no shortage of people who felt that Bay did need to be removed from the starting lineup, but Terry Collins held his ground and now Bay seems to (crosses fingers) finally be coming around.

How bad was Bay in this stretch? He was even worse than Daniel Murphy in 2009, after he had defensive problems which forced his move to first base. From May 9th to July 19th, a stretch covering 187 PA, Murphy had a .199/.270/.283 line. Murphy kept getting at-bats because every other starter on the team that year seemingly got hurt. He, too, eventually turned it around, as he posted a .294/.321/.504 line in his final 266 PA that season.

Would Mets fans feel good about Bay if he did as well as Murphy did in 2009 after he emerged from his slump? Well, yeah, if a guy who had a .493 OPS over 151 PA turned around to produce an .825 OPS, I think we would be ecstatic. Now, that may not be what we envisioned when Bay first signed with the club, but we have to deal with the 2011 reality, not the 2009-10 offseason hope.

In his last six games, Bay has a .417/.440/.625 slash line or even better than he did his first six games of the 2011 season when people were proclaiming him the key to the lineup. Of course there’s been no such hype now, as the Mets are 2-4 in those games.

But right now with Bay, the Mets need him to be a productive member of the team. We have to be encouraged by four multiple-hit games during this stretch and the fact that he broke his homerless streak. He’s not going to hit 36 HR, like he did the year before he signed with the Mets and he’s not the key to the lineup.

However, it sure would be nice if it did not feel like an automatic out when he stepped to the plate.

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