Mike's Mets Player Review Series: Jay Bruce
Now that the 2018 season is over for the New York Mets, we have been looking back at the year that was. After taking a more general view of the offense, pitching, and coaching staff, it’s time to take a look back at the Mets’ players. This series will take a look at every player on the roster for the Mets at the end of season from B (Tyler Bashlor) to Z (Daniel Zamora). The review will look at their season statistics, stories, and what role (if any) they will have next season. We continue the series today with a look at outfielder Jay Bruce.
Player Review: Jay Bruce
Sep 16, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; New York Mets right fielder Jay Bruce (19) is congratulated in the dugout after scoring a run against the Boston Red Sox during the seventh inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
2018 Stats: 94 Games, 319 At Bats, .223 Batting Average, 71 Hits, 18 Doubles, 1 Triple, 9 Home Runs, 37 RBI’s, 31 Runs Scored, 2 Stolen Bases, .680 OPS.
Story: The New York Mets pulled a bit of a surprise over the winter when they brought back outfielder Jay Bruce on a three year, $39 million deal. Bruce was added to give the Mets a proven run producer for the middle of their batting order, and things didn’t go according to plan. The first half was an utter disaster for Bruce, who hit just .212 with three home runs and 17 RBI’s in 212 at bats before landing on the disabled list with a back issue. Bruce missed two months of play before returning in mid-August, where he looked more like his usual self by batting .243 with six homers and 20 RBI’s in 107 at bats. The Mets began trying to figure out how Bruce could fit on the 2019 roster by having him split time between right field and first base for the rest of the year. The results of the experiment were mixed as Bruce didn’t look truly comfortable at first base.
Bruce was a bust for the Mets in 2018, but it is hard to say how big a role injuries played in his disappointing year. It is worth noting that Bruce looked much better at the plate after returning from the disabled list, a fact that should give the Mets some sense of comfort heading into 2019.
Contract Status: Signed Through 2020 (Owed $14.5 million in 2019)
Odds of Returning: 65%
2019 Role: Starter at First Base/Right Field
The Mets reportedly went against the advice of their own analytics department to bring back Bruce and they are paying the price for it now. Bruce is a poor fit on the Mets’ roster since they are better off deploying Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo in the corner outfield spots, allowing them to add a natural center fielder. The other option the Mets have is to play Bruce at first base, which just has him block prospects Dominic Smith and Peter Alonso from opportunities at the big league level. Expect the team to explore trades for Bruce over the winter, perhaps hoping to swap him for a player with a similar contract in need of a change of scenery. The Mets are likely stuck with Bruce, however, which is not an idea situation since his presence on the roster prevents them from putting together an ideal lineup both offensively and defensively.
Check back tomorrow as our Player Review Series continues with a look at outfielder Yoenis Cespedes!