Good Luck Jay Bruce
You have to give credit to Jay Bruce. He was dreadful when he first came to the Mets last year. In 50 games as a Met last year, Bruce hit just .219/.294/.391 with five doubles, eight homers, and 19 RBI, and that is with him having an eight game hot streak to end the season where he put up half his homers and eight of his 19 RBI. It was his worst stretch as a professional.
From there he faced the indignity of people questioning whether Bruce could hack it in New York. If that wasn’t bad enough, he spent an offseason facing the indignity of knowing no one really wanted him. The Mets put a for sale sign for him, and teams weren’t exactly rushing to scoop him up. It is with this we learned just what a true professional he was.
Bruce put everything aside, and he went out there and prepared for the 2017 season. He worked with Kevin Long to try to become a better hitter. It worked.
So far this season, Bruce hit .256/.321/.520 with 29 homers and 75 RBI. It was a return to his All Star form. It was one of the best seasons of his career. He was on pace for his first 40 homer season and just his second career 100 RBI season.
It wasn’t just his play at the plate, he was much better in the field. A player that was a -12 DRS and a -19.2 over the past three seasons was a 7 DRS and 2.6 UZR player for the Mets this season. Between this and hit hitting, it is the reason Bruce has a WAR over 1.0 for the first time since 2013.
However, it is more than the numbers and improved play. He was a good teammate who did what the Mets needed him to do. On two different occassions, Bruce went to first base because that’s where the Mets needed him to go. He served as a mentor and friend to Michael Conforto, who is having a breakout season of his own.
Bruce was a good Met this year, and he was one of the lone bright spots. Unfortunately, it was time for the team to move on from him. The corner outfield positions are set with Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes. Dominic Smith should be up soon to serve as the team’s first baseman. With that, it was best for the Mets to move to the future as soon as possible.
It was also best for Bruce to play in a pennant race. After the season he had, and with his willingness to do whatever was asked of him, the Mets did owe it to him to send him to a contender. He’s now with a team that was in the World Series last year. If Bruce continues playing the way he has this year, the Indians may very well get back there. Here’s hoping they do.
Good Luck Jay Bruce!