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.