Jay Bruce Can Boost the Mets' Offense in a Big Way

Can the addition of Bruce help the Mets catch the Nationals in the National League East?

Well, say this about the New York Mets. They're tryin'.

One year after acquiring Yoenis Cespedes at the trade deadline, a move that was crucial to their late-season surge that culminated in a World Series appearance, New York is at it again, agreeing to send Dilson Herrera and other prospects to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Jay Bruce.

Bruce has had a nice offensive season this year, batting .265/.316/.559 with 25 homers and a league-leading 80 RBI. He's added 60 runs scored, is walking around 20% of the time, and has a weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 125.

Adding Bruce will help a Mets lineup that has had a lot of trouble scoring runs this year, mainly because he can do this a lot.

Only the Braves (3.43) and Phillies (3.55) have scored fewer runs per game than the Mets this season (3.66). Here is where they rank in the major offensive categories in the National League, heading into Monday.

Mets' National League Rank Rank
Batting Average 15
On-Base Percentage 11
Slugging Percentage 8
Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) 11
Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) 8
Home Runs 3
Runs 13

How can a team that is third in the National League in homers be third-to-last in runs scored? The Mets are last in the National League in singles and second-to-last in doubles. Bruce isn't going to help with that a whole lot, but he knows dingers. It's also a historic mid-season trade.

The hope is that Bruce can add to New York's offensive mix, and if he and Cespedes are both healthy and humming, they'll provide an excellent middle of the order for the Mets. But it's fair to wonder if Bruce will keep this up the entire season, based on seasons past. In 2014, he posted a wRC+ of 78, and last year, it was 91.

And his defense is certainly a concern. Currently, Bruce has an overall fWAR of 0.7, thanks mainly to his far-below-average defense in the outfield, which has ranged from okay to downright awful since 2008, depending on the metric you use.

Season Defensive Runs Saved Ultimate Zone Rating FanGraphs' Def
2008 1 -2.4 -5.1
2009 5 9.2 5
2010 16 19.6 13.4
2011 0 -0.4 -7.4
2012 -1 -4.7 -11.6
2013 16 10.2 2.8
2014 -6 -6.1 -13.6
2015 5 -4.2 -11.2
2015 -13 -11.5 -16

The Defensive Runs Saved numbers in some of those years are good, but his range and overall Def rating from FanGraphs tell the story. He will not help an already suspect New York outfield defense.

But defense is a secondary concern for the Mets. They desperately needed an offensive upgrade, and Bruce certainly fits the bill. With New York just 4 games behind the Nats in the National League East and 2.5 games out of the second wild card, giving up a talented youngster like Nimmo is worth it.

Prior to the deal, our projections gave them a 28.2% chance of reaching the playoffs and a 5.2% chance of winning the division.

The addition of Bruce will improve those chances. And the Mets hope he will do for their stagnant offense what Cespedes did for them just one year ago.