Jul 6, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays infielder Jose Reyes (7) sits on the ground after Oakland Athletics infielder Jed Lowrie (not pictured) hit a single in the fourth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Trade Deadline: Solidifying the left side of the infield

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He’s charismatic, flashy, awe-inspiring, fast, a great hitter and, in the past, an All-Star. What he also is, but shouldn’t be, is the shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jose Reyes has been a great player for the better part of his 12 seasons in Major League Baseball, but at 31 years-old, the time has come to move the star-studded Dominican from shortstop to second-base.

Reyes is an above average player. His slash is comparable for a shortstop at .269/.323/.409, he’s a four time All-Star, won the National League batting title with the New York Mets in 2011 and was an instrumental piece in the 2012 trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Miami Marlins.

However, looking into his numbers, Reyes really hasn’t been a defensive All-Star throughout his career. Using two of the more prominent metrics for assessing defensive dominance, UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) and DRS (Defensive Run Saved), most analysts come to the conclusion Reyes is a below average fielder.

For all those who don’t know, UZR is a metric which measures a player’s fielding by the amount of runs they have saved or costed depending on whether or not they are a good fielder. Similar to UZR, DRS measures whether a fielder is above or below average, also displayed in runs. For both stats, a +15 manifests a Glove Glove caliber fielder whereas a -15 rating portrays a fielder who by FanGraphs standards is “Awful.”

Jose Reyes, by both metrics, is a lousy fielder. His UZR sits at -2.2 while his DRS has dipped to a dismal -8. Sadly, this is not a new phenomenon.  In fact, Reyes has not had an above average UZR (above 0) since 2008 while his DRS has been below average since 2007.

If sabremetrics aren’t you’re thing, look to the most commonly used fielding statistic which, unsurprisingly, tells an identical story. In Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Angels, Reyes committed his 13th error, tying him for seventh for all positions and 5th among only shortstops in the Major Leagues. While this is one of Reyes’ highest rates of errors per game at 0.173, it’s something Jays fans should probably get used to as Reyes continues to get older.

Although Reyes says his recent throwing errors are due to a, “sore shoulder” ,which has been nagging him for the past month and a half, his range should be equally concerning.

For this reason he should be moved across the diamond to second base where his aging arm would be better suited and would still contribute as an everyday player but would allow another player to provide better defense without eliminating Reyes’ above average bat at the plate.

Who would play short? That void could be filled through a variety of options. One viable option would be to acquire a third basemen such as Chase Headley or Martin Prado, both of whom the Jays have been rumoured to be interested in, and groom current third basemen Brett Lawrie to play shortstop which is a position someone with his athleticism and youth could handle.

Prado has limited experience at short- 16 career games- but being that he has handled himself well at virtually every other position, it’s not ludicrous to assume he could make the adjustment.

With all that has happened recently, this transition may be put on the back burner until the off-season. Even if it is, the Jays need to make the right decision by putting the best product on the field by moving Reyes to second base.

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Tags: Brett Lawrie Jose Reyes Martin Prado Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    Hmmmm Lawrie at SS… I will have to ponder this move. It makes sense initially when I think about it. I would miss those amazing plays at 3B though. Is it just me or do 3B plays always look more awesome?

  • http://www.jaysjournal.com/ Keegan Matheson

    I’m liking this idea the more we talk about it, Eric! I was (foolishly/blindly/eagerly) hoping that Reyes would be viable at SS for a few more seasons until someone like Barretto, Lugo, or a new pick could advance and offer us a homegrown option. Instead, I find myself yelling at the television frequently.

    When he’s on, the whole lineup follows suit. I’d love a move to 2B as long as SS could be addressed. What gets me frustrated is when Reyes tries to do too much at the plate. The longgggg, thrashing swing that leads to pop-up after pop-up.

    BUT. Still a very good ball player. I think his salary and past reputation hurt, a little. If he were a cheap veteran FA signing and played like this, people would be quite happy. Have to earn those pennies, though.

    I almost wish we still had Hechavaria. Key word: “almost. But hey!

  • brad

    I don’t necessarily think this is a fair assessment. Is Reyes a gold glover? I think we can agree the answer here is no but that doesn’t mean he can’t play the position anymore. He is a player that’s about 3 range runs below average when healthy and almost exactly average in terms of errors over the last 6 seasons. The outliers are his range last year(-6.2 runs…. hamstring problems) and his errors this year(shoulder trouble)…. sure this is bad but he is still a 3ish WAR player even if he never gets healthy.

    As for a move to 2b, I see a couple problems. The first is with the fact that SS requires only slightly more range than 2b so the lost range value will remain at 2b anyways. The second is that over the past 5 seasons, this is the only year Reyes has had a really rough season errors wise, so if he says its his shoulder I would tend to believe him…. there have been some pretty rough looking throwing mechanics mostly associated with dropping his arm which also supports this idea. Finally, I would point you towards Brett Lawrie’s defensive numbers. Over 250 innings at 2b(which is an admittedly small sample), he has a -10.3 UZR/150. At 3B last year? +15.4. Does he have the tools to be a good SS? I tend to think so but he hasn’t really demonstrated an ability(even in the minors) to play the middle infield any better than Reyes….. and more importantly, even if he is an above average SS, the drop-off in defense at 3B will likely be just as big as the upgrade at SS.

    I would say just grab a good second baseman. This gives you defense that is better at both 2b and 3b as compared to moving Reyes and keeps everyone where they are mentally the most comfortable.

    • Eric Elliott

      he was second in errors in 2012 at short and 5th among the league. I don’t think his range is above average to say the least especially playing on turf for the forseeable future. I don’t know how this age thing works because I’m still young (one could say) but being the Reyes has always struggled with injuries, I can only see more injuries in the future inflated because of the hard surface he has to play on.

      • brad

        In terms of runs above or below average, fangraphs has reyes at about even in terms of errors…. I also don’t think his range is above average but now and again he goes waaay into the hole and pulls it off….inconsistent jumps I think

        I don’t think he is a long term solution either with his age and injury issues, but he is perfectly capable of playing ss in the short term…. which is more than they have at 2b. Lawrie has not shown an ability to play the middle infield to the elite level he does at 3b…. and Reyes’ below average range serves no better at 2b than SS.

        The Jays need long term solutions for both SS and 2B, so why not find 2B first while you still have a short term answer at short?

  • Gary Slippoy

    Hey the Jays could bring up………….Oh yeah they don’t have anybody to bring up to play any of those positions. Did anybody notice that there isn’t one hme grown player in the Blue Jays starting lineup?