Now that Jason Bay has officially signed with the Mets, fantasy owners will immediately downgrade him because of the move from Fenway Park to Citi Field, which has the reputation of being an extreme pitcher-friendly park. But before we determine that, we’ll examine some things to see if that is truly the case.
Bay has been consistent the last few seasons. He has at least 31 home runs, 101 RBIs and 101 runs in four of the last five seasons and he has done it mostly in a poor lineup with the Pirates. When he was in a very good lineup with the Red Sox last season, he had 103 runs, 36 home runs and 119 RBIs with 13 stolen bases. His OPS over the last five years are .961, .928, .756, .895 and .921.
He’s not a great contact hitter and will strike out, but the rest of his production is very good. Bay hit 21 of his 36 home runs on the road last season and had a higher average on the road, so leaving Fenway Park isn’t a big deal.
As for Citi Field, the sample is too small to call it an extreme pitchers park. We only have 81 games to go on and since the Mets hit so few home runs last season, mainly due to the lack of their power hitters playing, the home run per game number will be small.
The dimensions between Shea Stadium and Citi Field aren’t huge. Citi Field is 335 feet down the leftfield line, 384 to leftcenter and 408 feet to center. The big differences are the 16-foot high walls and the 415-feet power alley in rightcenter, but that doesn’t matter when it comes to Bay.
According to www.hittrackeronline.com, only five of Bay’s homers weren’t to leftfield or leftcenter and the average distance of his home runs was 390 feet. There were 1.60 home runs per game at Citi Field last season, which ranked 11th in the National League, but keep in mind Daniel Murphy, Angel Pagan, Brian Schneider, Luis Castillo, Alex Cora, Omir Santos and Fernando Tatis were in the lineup often. I don’t care what park these guys played in, they weren’t going to hit home runs. Some will point to David Wright’s power decline, but it can’t be attributed fully to Citi Field. Wright hit five home runs in 258 at-bats at home and five home runs in 277 at-bats on the road.
At PNC Park in Pittsburgh, where Bay played from 2004-08, the home runs per game last season was 1.77. Based on all this information, it doesn’t seem ballparks impact Bay too much.
Based on Bay’s skills and history, as long as he is healthy, he should be in line for another 30 /100 season. With Carlos Beltran, Wright and Jose Reyes, Bay should have enough RBI chances and even if he doesn’t hit as many homers, he should come close to 30.