One Reason Not to Root for Jose Reyes in Batting Title Race

Let’s get one thing crystal-clear: Jose Reyes is one of my favorite MLB players. There are few other current MLBers who I would prefer to watch if given the choice. That said, I’m thrilled he has a chance to become the first-ever New York Met to win a National League batting title — he’s currently hitting .331 to league-leader Ryan Braun’s .333, and anything can happen in the final three games of the year.

However, there is one situation where I am rooting against Reyes in this race: if it means that Matt Kemp rushes past both Reyes and Braun and wins the title and becomes the first NL Triple Crown winner since Joe Medwick in 1937.

But, my baseball fandom supersedes my passion for the Mets, so you may feel differently. The way I see it, there is a better chance of a Met winning a batting title in my lifetime than a player winning the Triple Crown — after all, it’s been almost 75 years since it’s happened last.

The odds are stacked against Kemp, since at .324 he’s .009 points behind Braun and .007 behind Reyes. That doesn’t seem like a big number, but at this point in the season batting averages don’t alter very much. For example, if Braun goes through his final three games 0-for-12, he’ll still finish the year at .325 — .001 ahead of Kemp’s current percentage. So it will take slumps by both Braun and Reyes, as well as a hot streak by Kemp, to make it happen. Oh, and one more thing: Kemp is tied with Albert Pujols for the NL lead in homeruns with 37. So either that is going to have to stay the same or Kemp will need to out-homer Pujols in the final three games. Finally, there is the RBI title, which Kemp leads with 120 but doesn’t have entirely “in the bag”, since in second place is Ryan Howard with 115.

Will Matt Kemp pull it off? Unlikely. But I will be rooting for him — even if it means the Mets won’t have their first batting title winner.

What about you? Would you rather see Jose Reyes win the batting title, or witness Matt Kemp win the Triple Crown? Answer in the comments.

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. Paul September 26, 2011 at 8:17 am
    I’d love to see a triple crown, but if Kemp can’t do it I want Reyes to win the batting title.
  2. Joe September 26, 2011 at 8:23 am
    I agree with Paul but it’s a longshot & the only way he has a chance is the other two doing really bad in the final three games. And, even then, he might not do it.

    The longshot thing I’m rooting for is the Rays, hurt by last night’s game which on a baseball level was impressive, but personally, it was too bad.

  3. izzy September 26, 2011 at 8:45 am
    I believe I remember back to back triple crown winners in the sixties. Frank Robinson and Yaz. and before that the Mick in the 50’s. So the 70 some years is in the NL not all baseball. But I agree with your baseball premise that a triple crown is awesome. Unfortunately Kemp is 9 points behind Braun and that is tough in 3 games especially when you are in 3rd position. I’d like to see Jose win it but it would really suck if he wins it in a horrible season and then tops it off by leaving.
    • Joe Janish September 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm
      Robinson never did it in Cincinnati. Yaz? Mick? Are you talking about AMERICAN League players?

      NL was, is, and hopefully always will be, “baseball”. The Junior Circuit holds no weight here — particularly since the Designated Pinch Hitter experiment began.


  4. John September 26, 2011 at 8:55 am
    Yaz won in 1967 .326, 44 HR, 121 RBI
    • Joe Janish September 26, 2011 at 11:42 pm
      Yaz was a British electropop band from the 1980s whose music still blares at Eurotrash discotheques. They may have played cricket but baseball is questionable.
  5. gary s. September 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm
    If Jose does not win the batting title, he will still have the record he set this year.16 triples by the allstar break and no triples from the break to the end of the season.I’m guessing that’s never been done before.He has been the invisible man since the break.His legs will be a year older next year.I guess it would be nice if he gets the title because who knows with all his injuries if will ever stay healthy enough to qualify for a batting title in the future.
  6. argonbunnies September 26, 2011 at 2:27 pm
    I’d hate to see an amazing offensive season fall short of a triple crown by a tiny margin to an inferior or one-dimensional player. That’s how I felt in 1997 when Larry Walker led the NL in homers, finished second in batting to a guy who won the batting title every year (Gwynn), and finished in RBIs behind Galarraga — who simply hit a ton of home runs with Walker on base in front of him.

    2011 Matt Kemp, though, is no 1997 Larry Walker. If Kemp is the best hitter in the NL this year, it’s just barely so, and it’s not hard to argue that Braun has been better.

    So, if Kemp wins it, to me it’ll just feel like a fluke. Now if Ted Williams had batted .000155 higher in 1949 to beat George Kell for the batting title and Ted’s third triple crown — that would have been something to root for.

  7. argonbunnies September 26, 2011 at 2:30 pm
    When Pujols led in homers in ’09, I was rooting for him to pick up the 6 RBIs on Howard/Fielder and the 15 points of batting average on Hanley. He actually had the RBI lead but lost it with a slump.

    The biggest stat I’m watching this year is whether Albert can drive in 2 more runs and keep his average over .300 for an 11th straight 30-100-.300 season.

  8. argonbunnies September 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm
    As for Jose, I have this fear that a batting title will put an undeserved shine on his “great first half, lousy second half” season and drive up his FA price.

    I don’t know if agents and players and teams actually think that way… but it seems possible…

    • Joe Janish September 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm
      Undeserved? Hmm … not sure I agree with that, but I can see your point.

      Sure, Reyes in the 2nd half is nowhere near what he was in the 1st half. But he’s still one of the top five (or top 3?) shortstops in MLB, isn’t he? Maybe not — I’m biased because I love watching him play. Even playing at “75%”, he’s still among the elite. I don’t know that he needs a batting title to tip the scales toward a crazy contract, particularly after seeing what Carl Crawford commanded as a player whose main position is arguably the easiest on the field. It’s just not possible to find that mix of speed/hitting/fielding at the shortstop position, and someone will pay a premium for it.

      • argonbunnies September 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm
        No argument that Jose’s a top-5 SS!

        I just don’t think he’s a truly great hitter, and a flukey batting title might confuse that issue, and make it seem like Reyes + Pelfrey is clearly better than Tejada + C.J. Wilson + cash.

        That may be true, but I don’t think it’s clear.

        I also think that gimpy Reyes sucks. In his first 35 games played after that injury in early July: 1 triple, 6 steal attempts. Our “dynamic, exciting” player was basically absent for a quarter of a season… in addition to the time he was physically absent.

        Any large contract, IMO, would have to assume that he’ll be playing at 100% for the vast majority of the time. Anyone who doesn’t feel that’s a safe assumption should stay away.