Midseason Analysis: Jose Reyes
Let’s get one thing straight: Jose Reyes is not a dog. In fact, he’s one of the few Mets left who busts his butt on every play, day in and day out. Has he lost focus on occasion? Yes. Has he made some bad judgments here and there? Sure. Is he being led astray by some suddenly poisonous “veteran leaders”? Absolutely.
Jose Reyes remains one of the most exciting, and enjoyable players to watch in Major League Baseball. It’s hard not to smile with him when he’s on the field, extending his joy of the game to fans in a way rarely seen in this day of million-dollar contracts. He clearly loves the game and plays it with an expressive passion. And he performs pretty well, too.
His 19 homeruns last year suggested that he’d evolve into a topflight superstar in 2007. That turned out to be half-right, as he’s clearly on his way to stardom, but doesn’t need the homers to get there. Jose’s speed, slick fielding, much-improved ability to get on base, and extra-base power are enough to attract the adoration of fans and respect of opposing players. His being named the leadoff batter for the NL All-Star team is a testament to his performance and popularity.
- success at the plate depends on letting the ball get deep, which he did in spring training and most of April. When he trusts his lightning-quick hands and short stroke, he might be the most dangerous hitter in the NL — Pujols and Bonds included (don’t believe it? Consider that Reyes leads the team with 10 intentional walks –despite his speed and despite the fact he’s hit only four homers.)
- occasionally over-anxious / over-aggressive — though not as much as in previous years — which can cause him to be susceptible to off-speed and breaking pitches in the dirt
- no longer chases the high heater, but will try to dig out pitches at his ankles — often with success
- best basestealer in MLB — gets good leads and jumps most of the time, and when he doesn’t, succeeds anyway because of his speed and the opposing catcher rushing the throw
- one of the top three arms among NL infielders — quick release, great strength, excellent accuracy
- occasionally makes the flashy play, but more often makes difficult plays look easy
- good at feeding the double-play throw, not as good as making the turn, for two reasons: 1.) he hasn’t had a consistent DP partner at 2B; an 2.) he will bail out when aggressive runners slide in hard
While Carlos Beltran received more NL votes, many felt Jose Reyes was the real MVP of the team last year. He’s grown by leaps and bounds in regard to plate discipline, and is just scratching the surface of what he can do with the bat. If he can get back to trusting his hands, as he did at the beginning of the season, he could have a monster second half. However, Willie Randolph needs to give him a rest every once in a while if he wants him fresh for October.