A Google search for “Jason Bay + Run Producer” brings back 91,100 hits. Bay’s name and “RBI Guy” brings back 159,000 hits. “Jason Bay + good hitter” only brings back 160,000. The funny thing is that Bay has topped 105 RBI throughout his career only twice despite being a constant force in the middle of the Pirates’ and Red Sox’ lineups. He’s really not much of a “RBI Guy”. Which brings up another point — a warning, though: stop here if you don’t feel like reading another piece that discusses how RBI totals can fluctuate heavily (and sometimes amusingly) on a year-to-year basis.
For those who chose to read on, consider Tommy Davis. He has more than a few things in common with Bay. Both are left fielders, stand around 6’2”, and weigh around 200 pounds. Davis even played with the Mets at one point. In 1962, as a 23-year-old, Davis played his best season of ball. He hit 27 homers, held a line of .346/.374/.535, stole 18 bases, and had 153 RBI. Focus on that last statistic. 153 runs batted in. Since 1961, that ranks as the sixth most RBI in a single season and, until 1998, was the most. Since then, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Juan Gonzalez, and Alex Rodriguez have managed to pass Davis, including two seasons with more than 160.
There are about a dozen different fun tidbits to pull from Davis’ ensuring career. Here are the ones I enjoyed the most:
Davis had 153 RBI in 665 at-bats. Over the next two years, he racked up 1,148 at-bats and 174 RBI.
Davis never had reached the 100 RBI plateau, and never would do so again. In fact, he never reached 90 again.
In 1962, he spent the majority of his time batting fourth. This remains true through the 1968 season. In 1969, he spent most of his time hitting third rather than cleanup.
His teams kept him there in large part because of that huge RBI season. To be fair, he also had a .910 OPS that season, but his OPS in the immediate seasons afterwards: .816, .708, and .729 (after skipping an extremely short 1965 season for Davis).
Bay is a better hitter than Davis ever was, but if for no other reason than Bay’s health, hope a similar fate isn’t awaiting him.