Many questioned if his All-Star seasons in 2005 and '06 were a fluke. Others said his injured right knee was to blame.
"It was very tough, because the first few years, personally, [went] quite well," he said. "That's a whole different ballgame to deal with."
After averaging 34 home runs and 105 RBIs in his first two full seasons in the Majors, Bay stumbled to 21 homers and 84 RBIs in 2007.
But this year, Bay is back to his old self. He has 33 extra-base hits and 39 RBIs, heading into Sunday's game against the Blue Jays.
"I look back and I think it made me a better person, a better player to go through that," Bay said of '07. "I'm not glad it happened, but it's something I'm taking a positive from."
Bay doesn't know how much his right knee -- which he still wraps in ice after every game -- affected him last season. He said it wasn't a lack of confidence or motivation. It was simply a mystery.
"I can't really point it to one thing," he said. "My knee feels better. I feel like I'm doing the things I did in the past that I'm capable of doing.
"Last year, I wasn't doing them for whatever reason. I don't have a magical 'I did this' or 'I tried this in the offseason' or 'I changed this at the plate.' I'm doing what I've always done."
Bay's play has also picked up in the field. Last season, he committed a career-high eight errors. But in 2008, heading into Sunday, he only has one blunder to his name.
"I feel like I can go get those balls that I'm used to going to get," Bay said. "I just feel better.
"I just want to be that guy I was before that down year last year. I was just want to be that guy being consistent."
Todd Krise is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.