How Jose Reyes Can Be Faster
Impossible, right? Jose Reyes is already the fastest player in baseball — or at least, the fastest player east of Minnesota (where Carlos Gomez now plays). But there is one thing he can do that would get him on base a few more times — and it’s such a simple fundamental it’s ridiculous that no one has pointed it out to him yet.
If you pay attention, you’ll notice that Jose Reyes almost always looks at the ball after he hits it and watches it being fielded, particularly on infield ground balls. If he would simply put his head down and run directly to first base, he might just pick up a few extra infield hits — or not ground into double plays. Any high school sprinting coach will tell you that you slow down when you’re turning to look at your opponent, that it’s best to focus on the finish line, and it works the same way in baseball. There was one at-bat in particular, in the sixth inning with Endy Chavez on third and John Maine on first, when Reyes hit a hard grounder to short and was out at first by a whisker to complete the double play. Chavez scored, as it was only two out, but it would have been nice to have Reyes on first with only one out, don’t you agree? Watching the replay, you see Reyes hit the ball and follow it toward Ryan Theriot — in fact, Reyes looked two more times as Theriot fielded the ball and shuffled across the second base bag. I bet a silver dollar he’d have been safe had he looked only at first base and ran through it. Furthermore, Reyes’ front foot landed on the BACK of the first base bag instead of the front — had he landed on the front of the bag, he might have beat the ball (as Luis Castillo did a few pitches later). Maybe they can affix blinders — like the ones they put on horses — to the sides of Jose’s helmet?