Spring Training continues to get closer by the day for the Pittsburgh Pirates
In 38 days, pitcher and catchers of the Pittsburgh Pirates will have their first team workout of the spring at Pirate City in Bradenton. As I sit here typing this it is currently 1 degree with a wind chill of -6 degrees at my home in Altoona, so the words Spring Training sound fabulous at the moment.
After wearing number 62 during his first two seasons in the Major Leagues, utility infielder Max Moroff has switched to number 38 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, whenever the number 38 is mentioned for the Pittsburgh Pirates the player that always comes to my mind is former outfielder Jason Bay.
As everyone knows the Pittsburgh Pirates were god awful from 1993 – 2012 as the team somehow managed to put together 20 consecutive losing seasons. During that stretch the Pirates had players that were above average players and fun to watch. Players such as Brian Giles, Jason Kendall, Oliver Perez, and Bay come to mind. The issue was they never had more than one or two of them at a time.
The Pirates acquired Jason Bay, along with Oliver Perez, from the San Diego Padres in exchange for Brian Giles in August of 2003. From the time he was acquired until he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in July of 2008, Bay was the Pirates best player and one of the few bright spots for the franchise.
During his tenure in Pittsburgh, Bay was a mainstay in left field playing in 722 of 789 possible games. As a Pirate he owned a .375 on-base percentage, he slugged .515, his ISO was .233, he had a wOBA of .380, and his wRC+ was 130.
In 2004, Bay had a .382 wOBA, 130 wRC+, and a 1.8 fWAR. This led to him being named the National League Rookie of the Year. To this day Bay remains the lone Pirate to win the award. He was also a National League All-Star in 2005 and 2006, the latter of which saw him start in left field for the senior circuit when the game came to PNC Park.
From the start of 2004 through the time he was traded in July of 2008, Bay ranked 8th in the National League in home runs (136), 12th in wRC+ (129) and wOBA (.379), 13th in on-base percentage (.374), and 19th in fWAR (13.5). Very quietly, Bay spent five seasons as one of the best hitters in the National League. He also some of the best walk-up music in all of baseball by rocking ‘Down With The Sickness’ by Disturbed.
After being traded, Jason Bay had a great August and September for the Red Sox in 2008. He was also one of the team’s best hitters in the postseason that year, as well as during the 2009 season. Following 2009, Bay signed a free agent contract with the New York Mets but he then began to battle concussions and was never the same hitter again. He also had a short stint with the Seattle Mariners before retiring in 2013.