How Hot is Jose Reyes?

As mentioned in the last game recap, Jose Reyes is on a tear. Over the last 10 games, he’s hitting .465 with 13 runs scored, four doubles, four triples and six RBI. He also has a 10-game hitting streak and has scored at least one run in nine straight. He’s not hot, he’s scorching. Which begs the question: if Jose is hot now, then how do you term his first 47 games of the year, when he was hitting “only” .314 with a .821 OPS?

This is a serious question. Think about it: we might’ve thought Reyes got off to a “hot” start early on. But actually, he may have simply been “warming up”. And in fact, we might not even be seeing Reyes at his best yet — because we haven’t seen many balls fly over the fence. We know that Reyes has homerun power, because we’ve seen him hit as many as 19 dingers in a season — as a mere 23-year-old in 2006. Very generally speaking, batters develop an ability to hit more homeruns as they get older, stronger, and more experienced. Jose has hit only one homer this season, and his history suggests that he’ll hit many more than that in the next 100 or so games.

Of course, part of the reason he’s not hitting the ball over the fence is because he’s hitting it TO the fence — resulting in triples and doubles. Part of that is a function of spacious Citi Field, but the Mets also play half their games away from Flushing, so some of these high line drives are bound to reach the seats eventually.

Personally, I’m not so sure this is a “hot streak” in the same way it is for many other players (i.e., “mere mortals”). Generally, you see a player “unconscious” when he’s on a hot streak; meaning, he’s in a zone and doing things without thinking — and you can kind of tell from his body language that he’s supremely, and unusually, more confident, focused, and relaxed than he usually is. In Reyes’ case, I don’t see anything unusual about his body language — he looks like the same guy I have seen (when healthy) since 2005.

Let’s consider something else: Reyes is hitting the way he is while David Wright and Ike Davis are on the DL and Jason Bay is irrelevant. In other words, he doesn’t have much protection in the lineup, and this certainly isn’t a case of him being in the lucky situation of pitchers needing to pitch to him. He’s more or less doing this all on his own.

Food for thought.

The sad thing about all this is that despite Reyes’ hot streak, the Mets are still a .500 team. So if you believe in the theory that “as Jose goes, so go the Mets”, then it’s scary to think where the Mets would be if not for Jose.

What do you think? Is Jose Reyes as good as he ever will be right now? Could he still be “warming up”? Will he eventually prove be even better? Did I just jinx him into an 0-for-45 streak?

Let me know in the comments.

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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. Dan N. June 6, 2011 at 8:26 am
    I see a man playing to impress other teams and a man playing for a contract. He just happens to be on the Mets.
    • adrock June 6, 2011 at 9:32 am
      yeah, like that contract he was playing for when he was healthy from 2006-2008. even last year his numbers coming back from injury were pretty good. maybe he’s just confused about which year his contract is up.
    • JoeBourgeois June 6, 2011 at 9:33 am
      I don’t buy this. If players were able to ratchet it up like this at will, wouldn’t they do it all the time? They do have some pride, after all, and even if that were not the case, wouldn’t a consistent strong performer be worth more money than somebody who performs in one year out of every four or five?
      • Joe Janish June 6, 2011 at 9:56 pm
        Agreed. While I have had my suspicions about some players who have mysteriously had big years during a walk year (Adrian Beltre and former Braves catcher Javy Lopez immediately come to mind), I don’t for a second believe that Jose is having a great year because he’s going to be a free agent. Playing for a new contract may have helped motivate him during the offseason, but the fact he hasn’t played this well over the past 2-3 years is because of his injuries rather than a lack of effort. I fully believe we would have seen this type of production in 2009 and 2010 if only Jose could have remained 100% in those years.
        • CatchDog June 7, 2011 at 8:40 am
          Truer words have never been spoken ! ! !
  2. gary s. June 6, 2011 at 9:55 am
    i see a very good player having a career year.The big question is what do u get over the next 5-6 years for whomever signs him to a new deal? To me, the risk is injury and him losing his speed, but that is part of every big free agent signing.I would not be that worried about year 1 and 2 of the contract.It’s years 3-5 that would concern me.But for a team that needs one player to get to a world series, Jose could be that piece.
    • Anthony M June 7, 2011 at 2:16 am
      How would Reyes’ contract be worrisome in years 3-5? He is not even in his 30’s for god sake! Whoever does sign him is going to sign a 6-8 year deal easily, and with the expectation that he will be performing at his current levels for at least 6 out of 8 years of that contract….
  3. Mic June 6, 2011 at 11:04 am
    He is healthy again.
  4. Sebastian June 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm
    He is amazing and I just want to enjoy the rest of his time on the Mets for as long as possible. He won’t keep up this recent tear but I think he could easily hit .330.
  5. wohjr June 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm
    do whatever it takes to keep him
  6. Mike June 6, 2011 at 1:50 pm
    Reyes is doing particularly well. His BABIP is a good .365, certainly above average, but not unconscious and unsustainable. Compare that to his career average of .312 and he is simply having a great year, with a bit of luck. The other possibility is that Citi field with all its spaciousness, simply gives him more room to get a hit. With more ground to cover in the outfield, the possibility of a ball dropping in is greater. So, a ball hit on a line is better than a ball hit in the air because there is less of a chance to catch it and more space for it to land safely. For Reyes this is perfect. A look at his Home/Road splits tells an interesting story (.432/.297). In other words: ridiculous vs league average.

    His pace on triples and doubles speaks to his amazing ability to hit the ball in the gap… making him perfect for Citi field. I think he will being to hit some HRs, particularly on the road, but his triples are just as valuable if he scores after each of them (not the case 100% of the time, but still pretty close).

    Makes me think even more that Reyes needs to be a Met. I don’t see why they cannot have both players, but choosing between Reyes and Wright is a no brainer for me: Reyes stays. SS is a more premium position and Reyes is a better player for this ball park.

    • CatchDog June 7, 2011 at 8:59 am
      Awesome analysis, Mike. I’ve always been a fan of Jose, who is finally having that season we all knew he was capable of. Let’s hope he has quite a few more –in a Met’s uniform.

      In theory, in something like a 6 yr – 108 mil (18 mil per season), the team pays less money for the first few seasons worth of production on the contract; meaning that the player is usually worth more in production. Then, as the player becomes less productive in the back end of the contract, the money and numbers hopefully even out.

      Carlos Beltran is a prime example. According to FanGraph, despite the injuries, Tron’s awesome production in 2006, 07 & 08 make up for 09 & 2010. Right now, Carlos’ production is projected to be worth 126 mil over the life span of a contract that paid him 119 mil.

  7. Anthony June 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm
    He is having a career year due in large part to the fact that he is in a contract year.
    • Mike June 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm
      To anyone who makes this argument, please come up with a way to prove/measure increased performance due to contract status. Maybe come up with a graph that shows the correlation between years left on a contract and performance. Then please look up causation and realize correlation and causation are two different things and unrelated. Then realize you did all that work for nothing.
      • Mike S. June 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm
        If only more baseball writers realized that correlation doesn’t equal causation, we can stop hearing about stupid theories like increased performance in contract years and my personal favorite, the Verducci Effect.
        • Joe Janish June 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm
          The Verducci Effect is a favorite of mine as well. One of these days I’m going to come up with a “Janish Effect” that applies to 15% of ballplayers, but they’ll be relatively well known so the theory will stick. And I’ll just ignore the players who don’t fit into the theory. :-)
  8. Anthony M June 7, 2011 at 2:13 am
    I agree with some of the previous comments regarding how assanine it is to say that he is performing better because it is a walk year. As noted previously, players would gain much more monetarily, etc., from playing like it is a “walk-year”, EVERY YEAR!

    Anyhow, as a long time Mets fan, I have never seen a player on the Mets that was as exciting to watch as Reyes is. With his all around ability (def, speed/baserunning and timely hititng), he is going to go down as one of the best Mets of this time and even all-time….along with Strawberry, Gooden, Hernandez, Seaver, Franco, Wright, Olerud and a few others in even earlier times…hard not to agree.

    It’ll be nice if the Mets can keep Reyes, Wright, Ike, Murphy and Paulino in the infield with Bay, and whoever else in the outfield. Bay will come around. Thoughts?

  9. Mike S. June 8, 2011 at 1:48 am
    I honestly don’t think the Mets are that bad of a team this year, considering 3 of their top 5 players have seen extended time on the DL this year and they are still around .500 with limited success against decent teams. When Wright and Davis return, the team will have an above average bat at every position except catcher and 2 .300 hitters (choose your 2nd baseman from the Turner/Murphy/Tejada group, all of whom are playing extremely well) on the bench. Throw in a healthy and effective Santana into a rotation that suddenly doesn’t look too bad and is it out of the question for the team to have a monster 2nd half?