August 20, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes takes the field in the second inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
Jose Reyes is a fantastic baseball player that we just don’t seem to talk about enough. I guess that’s what happens when a player performs exactly how we expect him to.
Reyes’ consistency is really something to marvel at.
He’s batting .295/.348/.437 this year with a .343 wOBA and 114 wRC+. His career averages? Almost identical at .292/.342/.440, .338 wOBA and 107 wRC+.
It’s interesting that despite moving to a much different ballpark in Toronto that doesn’t have the cavernous alleys of Miami, Reyes has kept his overall lines very similar but has got to the end result in a slightly different manner.
Shockingly enough, Reyes doesn’t have any triples this year. He’s had 38 the past three years but triples don’t come as easy in the generally smaller American League ballparks. But what the smaller parks has done is helped increase his home run production. He has 10 so far this year in 81 games, which is about how many he averaged the past 3 seasons over an average of 139 games/yr in Miami. So he’s basically mitigated the fewer triples with more home runs.
Reyes has cut down on the strikeouts and increased his walk percentage since he first entered the league in 2003. This year he’s striking out 10.8% of the time and walking at a rate of 7.5%, which again is ridiculously similar to his career marks of 10.2% and 7.1% respectively. The past two years his walk rate outpaced his strikeout rate so he’s reverted slightly in that regard but he’s also in his first year of transition to possibly the toughest division in baseball.
Jose’s speed helps him keep his BABIP consistently over .300. This year is no exception. His BABIP of .309 is just a hair under his .312 career average.
The one knock you could have on Reyes this season is a huge drop in stolen bases. He had 40 in 2012 and 39 in 2011 but this year he’s only managed 14 (in 19 chances). Missing time has affected him obviously, since he would have close to 30 SB if he played the whole season. And you can’t really fault him for being cautious after his ankle injury, if in fact he has been a little less aggressive on the base paths. But I still think it’s reasonable to expect 30+ stolen bases from Reyes for at least a few more years.
This brings us to the point of Reyes health. He’s been labelled as “fragile” and some seem to think injuries have been a recurring problem for him. The New York Daily News provided a quick recap of Reyes injury history in 2011 but sometimes the recency effect can cause opinions to be overblown. Despite surgery in 2009 and a couple of DL trips in 2010 and 2011, Reyes returned to play 160 games in 2012. He didn’t miss any time between 2005 and 2008. And this year he hurt his ankle on a freak play that came away from the Rogers Centre that really could have happened to anyone. So similar to the way that Kyle Matte explained the “injury-prone” label is unfair for Brandon Morrow, I feel the same way about Reyes.
So what’s my point? I guess it would be that Jose Reyes is an incredible talent and another brilliant campaign hasn’t got enough pub around Toronto this season. Sometimes we may marvel too much at the out-of-this-world and likely to regress small-sample-size situations, whether good or bad. But when you are as consistent as Reyes, to me that’s the definition of phenomenal.