2009 Analysis: Jeremy Reed

jeremy-reed-mugWhen the Mets sent 7 players to Seattle and Cleveland last December in a three-team deal centered around J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed was an afterthought. As it turned out, Reed had more of an impact on the Mets than the closer-turned-setup man.

Though, that wasn’t a difficult feat, considering that J.J. went kaPutz by June. Reed wasn’t especially overwhelming, but he did stay healthy and make contributions from April through October.

In fact, Reed did everything he was asked to do. He effectively handled all three outfield positions, finished 4th in MLB with 15 pinch-hits, and performed admirably — save for one bad throw — when pressed into service at first base.

But for whatever reason, Reed was underused and seemingly underappreciated by manager Jerry Manuel.

It began immediately after spring training, when Reed led the Mets in batting average — hitting .393 in 61 ABs. That scorching spring earned him a seat on the dugout bench. Granted, both Fernando Tatis and Daniel Murphy also had strong springs, but Reed didn’t get a start until May 6 — after accumulating all of 11 at-bats on the season. He saw more playing time in May than any other month, hitting .275 in 40 ABs while splitting time between the outfield and first base — a position he hadn’t played since college. Despite his inexperience, he looked pretty good around the bag, handling grounders and infielders’ throws smoothly. But after throwing the ball beyond Omir Santos to allow the winning run to score (the inning after Ryan Church infamously missed third base), Reed never played 1B again.

A few weeks later — on June 1 and 2 — Reed went 5-for-7 in two consecutive losses to the Pirates, but his next start came 18 days later (he did get 6 ABs as a pinch-hitter). It was during this stretch that Daniel Murphy was looking like a butcher at first base and hitting in the .240s, Fernando Tatis was hitting into a DP every other at-bat, and Fernando Martinez was struggling mightily to adjust to MLB pitching.

From that point on, Reed was relegated to pinch-hitting duty, and was fairly successful — he finished the year with a .278 AVG in that role, which isn’t shabby. But starts were few and far between, despite all the Mets’ injuries. His name was written into the lineup only twice in August and four times in September.

Granted, a big part of Reed’s bench time down the stretch was due to the emergence of Angel Pagan and the acquisition of Jeff Francoeur. But that was the way Reed’s entire season went — when others weren’t earning at-bats away from him, he was pushed aside to allow someone else an opportunity.

While Jeremy Reed doesn’t have enough power to be a starting corner outfielder, he has shown the versatility, defensive skills, baserunning speed, fundamentals, and pinch-hitting ability to be a valuable bench player on a championship ballclub. Unfortunately, his salary — $975K in 2009 — likely precludes him from being a Met in 2010. Chances are the club will non-tender Reed and allow him to become a free agent. Which in the end may turn out best for both the Mets and Reed — as the Mets have plenty of backup OF options and Reed could find more playing time with another team.

And when/if Reed leaves the organization, the Mets will have nothing left from that blockbuster deal other than reliever Sean Green. Ouch.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Matt Himelfarb November 28, 2009 at 2:49 am
    Gotta disagree with you Joe. Reed’s defense was fine, but he was an automatic out (.605 OPS.) at the plate. Whatever playing time he did get meant more time for Nick Evans or somebody useful on the bench.
  2. joejanish November 28, 2009 at 11:48 am
    Reed’s OPS was only .660, does that make him a “semi-automatic out” ?

    I think you have to find a better way to measure pinch-hitters. If we go by OPS then 90% of pinch hitters are “automatic outs” — in which case, we may as well eliminate pinch-hitters in Beaneball, just as we do the bunt and the stolen base, right?

    It’s unfair to measure bench players by raw stats, because hitting a baseball successfully has much to do with timing, staying sharp, seeing patterns, seeing pitchers more than once, and other “immeasurable” elements. Further, many players’ stats are increased as the result of hot streaks.

    Reed was a bench player who never started more than 3 games in a row, therefore never “got into a groove”. More than 30% of his ABs came as a pinch-hitter, so he was usually facing a “fresh” pitcher — either a setup man, closer, or situational guy. How well can anyone hit if they get 4 at-bats a week and they’re against the likes of Jon Broxton, Mariano Rivera, and Huston Street?

    OK Reed didn’t face a closer every time up but hopefully you get my point. Check out Greg Dobbs’ stats in 2009 compared to ’08 and ’07. His numbers dropped dramatically — and like Reed, over 30% of his ABs came as a PH. Does that mean he stinks, too?

    There’s more to the measurement of a ballplayer — particularly a bench player — than the stat sheet. Like it or not there are other issues that the calculator doesn’t take into consideration, which make it difficult to predict future performance.