Have to assume this Andy Martino story speculating about moving Jason Bay to center field is merely an homage to Howard Johnson, the Met whose move to center field was almost as ill-advised.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that Jason Bay could be a league-average defensive center fielder. I find that hard to believe, since he’s been, by most accounts, a below-average left fielder for years now. But let’s just pretend for a second.
Well, Jason Bay has an 81 OPS+ this year. Among center fielders that qualify for the 2011 batting title, and there are 19 of them, Bay would trail 18. The only guy he beats is Alex Rios, whose OPS+ of 54 is historically bad for the position.
The only thing Jason Bay does this year at a respectable rate is hit lefties- and that .878 OPS is buttressed by a likely unsustainable batting average on balls in play of .393. So the only real argument for Bay from a 2012 standpoint on the field is as a platoon partner for Lucas Duda in left field. There’s a non-zero chance Bay out-hits Duda against lefties. And if the Mets are paying him $16 million either way, you know, why not?
But an outfield of Murphy in left (who, by the way, displayed not the slightest aptitude at the position), Bay in center and Duda in right would have to be the worst defensive outfield the Mets put on the field since- well, maybe this. Bobby Bonilla in right, HoJo in center, Chico Walker in left- can that be topped?
As long as Angel Pagan is an option to return, we won’t find out.