Jose Reyes 4th Best SS in MLB?
The MLB Network has a “statistical analysis” machine called “The Shredder” that uses pure stats to determine the top 10 players at each position. The show consists of analyzing The Shredder’s list as well as analysis from two real-life human beings, Brian Kenny, and a guest analyst. (h/t to Jason Rollison of rumbunter.com)
The following installment looks at the Top Shorts Stops in Major League Baseball. According to The Shredder, Toronto Blue Jays’ SS, Jose Reyes is the 4th best in all of baseball.
Many people may be surprised to see Jose Reyes rank so highly on The Shredder’s list. Billy Ripkin didn’t even have him in the top 10, but Kenny had him 3rd. What is it that makes Reyes so valuable; more valuable than say Andrelton Simmons or J.J. Hardy?
More from Toronto Blue Jays News
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
- Toronto Blue Jays: Has the Shift Killed Kevin Gausman’s 2022 Cy Young Hopes?
- Blue Jays: What Yusei Kikuchi’s latest stumble should mean
- Blue Jays: Alek Manoah on pace to succeed in possible postseason
- Blue Jays: Bradley Zimmer has carved himself a valuable role
Last season, Reyes put up great numbers from the lead off position. He scored 94 runs, 30 stolen bases to go along with 9 HR, 51 RBI, 33 2B and 4 3B. He missed 19 games in 2014. But, considering the year before, Blue Jays fans will definitely take 143 games form Reyes. There is no doubting his offensive contributions. Leading off, Reyes has a K% of just 11.1%, which is well below the league average of 20%. Perhaps the one knock against his offensive game is BB%, which was a paltry 5.8% last season. The league average is 8%.
Of course, his speed is another addition that sets him apart from many on the Top 10 list. Last season he was quite successful in this area. He stole 30 bases and was only caught 2 times. Add this to his bat and you can see where his 3.3 WAR came from. Given that The Shredder takes statistical performance into account, those of us who go by what we see on a daily basis may actually have a different opinion.
With the short stop position, you have to provide a lot more than offense. It is arguably the most demanding position on the field. This is where many will dispute Reyes’ value. In fact, our very own Michael Wray disputed Reyes’ value at short to the extent that he calls Reyes the second baseman of the future.
In his piece, Wray points to Reyes’ ugly UZR/150 of -8.0 from 2014 as a starting point to look at Reyes’ declining defensive skills. I went to Fangraphs.com to explore this idea. You have to go back to 2008 to even find a year where he was better (UZR/150= 1.6) than the league average (0) in this category. And, 2007 (11.5) was the last time he was even great at the position. His best season at SS came in 2003 when he put up 12.1 UZR/150. Having Reyes at SS cost the Blue Jays 16 runs in 2014 as indicated by his -16 DRS.
I then looked to his Inside Edge Fielding and the percentage of plays made describe as “Even”, “Likely” and “Routine”. Generally speaking, if a SS can be consistent with these types of plays, and he has a guy like Brett Lawrie or Josh Donaldson to his right, he should prove to be adequate. Reyes? Well, he made 38.5% of “Even” plays, 68.6% of “Likely” plays and 96.9% of the “Routine” ones. Yikes!
Reyes is widely known for his arm strength. He’s got a cannon. It’s true. Many times, he’s made up for a bobble or misstep with a quick launch over to first. At this point, his arm may be what saves him. Or, is it? According to his Fans Scouting Report, his Arm Strength has been declining to a value of 70 in 2014. Over the last 5 seasons, he’s lost 18%. But, it gets worse. His Arm Accuracy was at an all time low last season, a 36! This number represents a 30% decline over the last 5 years. In fact, every category in Fans Scouting Reports shows a nasty decline for Reyes: Instincts- from 64-35, First Step- from 78-38, Speed- from 88-63 and so on.
So, how is it that The Shredder can use stats and numbers and still come up with Reyes as the 4th best SS in MLB? Clearly, Reyes being such a dynamic player at the top of the order is what is carrying him. Taking offensive contributions into account, we can probably go along with the assessment of Reyes. There are very few short stops in the game that can produce the type of game he does. In fact, one could make the argument that Troy Tulowitzki shouldn’t even be at the top of any list given that he can’t stay healthy.
Despite the defensive short comings of Jose Reyes, he still put up a 3.3 WAR last season. He is a valuable piece of this Toronto Blue Jays lineup. Besides, even if we were to go with a better defensive option at SS (Ryan Goins is a career 33.3 UZR/150 player), we all know what that would mean for the offense and therefore would never really consider it.
Perhaps the best way to look at Reyes’ value in the lineup is to not look at what he brings when he is there, but to look at what we’d be missing if he weren’t on the roster at all. THAT is even scarier!
Next: A Look at Russell Martin's Place in the Blue Jays Order