Mets Spring Training Question 18: Jason Bay’s Batting Stance

With 18 days until pitchers and Molinas report to spring training, let’s focus on question #18 facing the Mets: what batting stance will Jason Bay employ, and will it be conducive to improved performance?

If you remember, Bay’s entrance music should have been the song made famous by Wilson Pickett (or Ted Nugent, depending on your age), as Bay became “The Man of 1,000 Stances”. There was the “worm beater” stance he displayed in early March, followed by the “Jam On It” method used a week later, and then the “hidden dragon, crouching tiger” version sported by St. Paddy’s Day … to describe but a few.

The variations continued during the regular season, as Bay seemed to enter his own personal laboratory every time he came to the plate, experimenting with bat angles, foot placement, and strides like a mad scientist (visions of Gene Wilder as Young Frankenstein come to mind). It’s hard enough to hit the most hellacious stuff on the planet offered by MLB pitchers; it becomes next to impossible when the mind is thinking about hand and foot positioning.

Perhaps related to his inconsistent setup and approach, Bay perpetually looked uncomfortable and lacked confidence through much of 2011 — and his numbers reflected it. So the big question for Bay in 2012 is, will he find a comfortable and effective stance this spring, will he stick with it, and will it help him return to being the feared middle-of-the-order slugger that earned him a $66M payday a few years ago? A positive answer will go a long way toward whether the Mets will be able to dump him in July score enough runs to stay out of the NL East basement.

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. LongTimeFan February 2, 2012 at 11:11 am
    He should adopt what made him successful as a Pirate, but I also notice he collapses his stride leg too soon during his swing, thus compromising his base of support.

    He also screws up his swing path by pulling his head and torso off the path of the bat. Essentially, he’s self-sabotaging.

    I have no doubt in my mind that Jason Bay is still very capable of driving the ball and having the success he had. His mechanics and pitch selection are killing him and to be successful, he needs to improve both. But above all, his mechanics are key. Good pitch selection won’t matter all that much if he can’t convert that into a well struck hit. because his mechanics are so flawed..

  2. LongTimeFan February 2, 2012 at 11:16 am
    Also, it appears from the photos you posted, that Bay is lining his hands up differently on the bat.
  3. Jujo February 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm
    I think Bay will improve this year because

    1) He is healthy
    2) The fences have moved in
    3) He works hard

    If he delivers a .270 avg, 20+ HRs and 75 RBIs that would be the low side expectation. I compare him against Jason Werth who had a much worse year and expected to bounce back this year as well. Bay will never be worth the contract he was signed to BUT if you can get that production from his position for 150 games, that is area to cross off as a concern to this team.

  4. Warren February 6, 2012 at 10:31 am
    Just before Bay went on his hot streak at the end of the year there was an article in the Star-Ledger about how Bay and the hitting coach had decided that instead of trying to change to a batting stance that looks nice that he’d instead revert to his old but not classic stance. And he took off from there. So let’s see if that continues.