More Durable: David Wright or Jose Reyes?

Remember when the Mets let Jose Reyes walk away for absolutely nothing, and inked David Wright to an historical contract extension?

At the time, the thinking was that Wright was more “the face of the Mets,” better fit the team’s offensive philosophy of homeruns and walks, and would prove to be more durable than Reyes over the long haul.

The first element is debatable; considering the team’s Flushing, Queens, location and associated extremely diverse local demographic, it could be argued that a Latino ballplayer would be as fitting a “face” as any. There’s no argument for the power/OBP — Wright wins that hands down. But what about durability?

For all the brouhaha regarding the supposed fragility of Reyes, guess who has played more ballgames over the past three seasons?

Give up? Here’s a surprising fact: the “oft-injured” Jose Reyes has played in 379 games from 2011-2013, while Wright has participated in 370. Reyes made 1721 plate appearances to Wright’s 1609 during that period, and scored 245 runs to Wright’s 214.

Guess who had more total bases in the past three years? Again, it’s Reyes, with 706 to Wright’s 673 — fairly significant considering Reyes played in only 9 more games. As expected, Wright beats Reyes in OBP and OPS, but not by much — .378 and .859 for Wright to Reyes’ .361 / .813. Reyes wins in batting average .306 to .292, as well as stolen bases (94 to 45), doubles (88 to 87), triples (28 to 9), and sacrifice flies (12 to 10); he also grounded into fewer double plays (21 to 31).

Granted, Wright obliterates Reyes in homeruns (53 to 28) and RBI (212 to 138), and also beats him in a number of advanced SABR metrics such as WAR. Additionally, Reyes has posted negative UZR fielding numbers, while Wright has been positive in two of the three years.

I’m not about to suggest that the Mets made a mistake in “choosing” Wright over Reyes for the long term — and there are still several years to judge the decision. But I find it interesting that recently, durability is not a significant difference between the two players.

Thoughts? Do you expect the durability trend to continue? Why or why not? Answer 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. james October 16, 2013 at 8:08 am
    Thanks for writing an interesting piece. when you look at the numbers, JR and DW have only one complete season each in those last three years showing them both to be rather injury prone. As far as total bases go, I was surprised to see that JR had 0 triples to go with only 20 doubles last year. I wonder if he’s lost a step…at any rate, next season will be important for both players to see if they can get back on track by playing a full season or if missing huge chunks of a year is going to continue being the trend.
  2. DanB October 16, 2013 at 8:58 am
    On one hand, Reyes’ leg injuries have more long term concerns then compared to Wright’s injuries. On the other hand, which is harder to find — a good leadoff hitter or a good #3 hitter (though I think Wright should hit #2)?
  3. izzy October 16, 2013 at 10:35 am
    It doesn’t matter who is more fragile. There are very few Cal Ripkin’s around. what is important is the total ineptness of the Met front office to field a major league short stop in two entire seasons. you don’t want to pay a veteran; fine. you damn well better have a better plan than a kid who has no range or pop, and a journeyman who can’t hit and can’t field.
    The discussions over Reyes’ injuries takes away from the true failure of all the failed GMs in the Met front office. Their PR office gets another A+
    • Cal Ripken October 17, 2013 at 9:32 am
      There are even less of me.
  4. Vandelay October 16, 2013 at 10:59 am
    I do think Wrights recent injury trend (if you include the ST injuries) is somewhat of a concern. But really the findings of this particular article are just the nature of the sample frame used. It just so happens that the 3 years capture the only 2 yrs in Wright’s career where he missed a lot of time. You go back a 4th yr or 5th yr and it’d show Wright playing more games. Maybe the recent stuff is more relevant/predictive but still results differ depending on timeline chosen. And in terms of when the decision was made to sign/not sign the two of them. At the end of 2011 Reyes was coming off 3 straight seasons of missing major time. Hadn’t played more than 140 since 2008. At the time Wright was resigned post 2012 he was coming off a full season and only had the one major injury of 2011 which was surrounded by mostly 150+ (and one 140+ yr).

    And in terms of stats. Again it’s vastly different based on the sample time. 2011 was by far Wrights worst year and by far Reyes’ best. I don’t think that season is necessarily predictive going forward. Especially since it seems Wright has been a much different and better player (back to the guy he was at Shea) since the citi fences were adjusted

    So I do think DWs injuries are concerning on some level and I do still wish both Jose and David were here. In terms of the data that was available at the time and in terms of the performance of the two players since if they could only keep one guy I think the Mets kept the right one. (And then there was the whole Madoff thing being unsettled that also impacted the Jose non-signing at the time but that’s another issue)

    • Joe Janish October 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm
      The time frame wasn’t randomly chosen. It was chosen with the thought that what a player has done most recently would be more indicative of what he’ll do in the future, compared to, say, what he did 5-7 years ago.

      That’s not to say that the past three years are predictive — only that, if we are to try to make some kind of projection going forward, it makes more sense to base it on recent activity rather than older data / performance.

      • Vandelay October 17, 2013 at 11:11 pm
        I don’t disagree that what is more recent is more relevant than what happened 7 years ago. Which is why I do have some concern about Wright’s recent injury trends. I was just pointing out that things change based on what is considered “recent”. Even if you just shift the definition slightly and look at the last 2 years or the last 4 years ..results would be quite different. (For example while Reyes fared better over the last 3 yrs, over the last 2 yrs Wright has played 15 more gms and has 66 more total bases) Statistically 2011 is a pretty big outlier both in terms of what they’ve each done over their careers and what they’ve done within the last 3 years. For both guys their 2013 was very similar to their own 2012, but quite different from their 2011.

        Reyes (2011-2013)
        .337/.384./.493/.877
        .287/.347/.433/.780
        ,296/353/.427/.780

        Wright (2011-2013)
        .254/.345/.427/.771
        .306/.391/.492/.883
        .307/.390/.514/.904

        I am probably being way more wordy here than I need to be since I do agree with some of the points about the injury issues and durability seemed to be the main point of your post moreso than performance . But my main point was what we are seeing here is largely a function of putting a lot of weight on the 2011 season. And given that, I don’t find these results surprising…I already knew these things to be true before reading your article (no offense meant by that). And while I am somewhat worried about Wright’s injuries..I’m not at this point worried he is going to have another season like 2011 performance wise (unless maybe he foolishly tries to play through injury again)

  5. crozier October 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm
    It’s unfortunate that this needed to be a choice in the first place, but oh well. That being said, one asset without the other makes the question moot in a sense. Reyes provided a spark like few leadoff players in Mets history, and Wright is one of their best offensive hitters. But where’s the value of a leadoff star without a power hitter to score him? And what’s the value of a power hitter without men on base?

    The “face” of an organization is about character, and here it’s no contest. I saw Reyes pull himself from the lineup to ensure his batting crown; I saw Wright practically fight Collins to stay in a game even though he would’ve been beaned. These incidents struck me as emblematic, not aberrations. I’d take Reyes back in a heartbeat, but as to the “face” of the organization, I prefer guys like Wright, Delgado, Beltran, Santana, and yes, even resident nudist Harvey (he needs to polish his interviewing skills, though).

    Wright’s durability is a concern, but his back injury was a freak thing, while his pulled hamstring is a common issue. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him injury-free over the next few years. Reyes I view more as a high risk, and I question whether his primary asset, speed, is already compromised — zero triples in 2013. Wright, on the other hand, will return next year with his power and defense intact.

    • izzy October 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm
      Fighting to stay in a game!!! funny how you forget or ignore Reyes fighting with Manuel to stay in a game when he pulled up at first. Manuel’s first game. Hard to believe you’d forget it. You really judging a guy’s career about one meaningless game. Do you think its so terrible that a guy wanted to win the batting title? David Wright is so so good, how come he announced he had K Rod’s back after K Rod beat up the old man… That was before he found out the Wilpons were not pleased. You can find examples to knock anyone if you look close enough. And PS congrats on knowing the future perfeclty. Please give Janish some winning lottery numbers so his site can stay funded.
      • crozier October 16, 2013 at 8:27 pm
        Love you too, Izzy. You never let me down.
    • Joe Janish October 17, 2013 at 8:51 pm
      Delgado as a “face”? The same guy who purposely hid from journalists nearly every ballgame? Beltran followed his lead in that habit as well.

      As much as I loved Beltran and Delgado as ballplayers, they absolutely, positively are/were “small market” players and not built for the media frenzy of NY. That’s not to say they couldn’t perform well in NY — just that, their personalities weren’t ideal for the spotlight of the media capital of the world.

      And as for Santana … well, I’ve always had a problem with that “little” issue of date rape that was swept under the rug. It’s amazing to me that everyone forgets about Santana’s going outside of his marriage to rape/not rape a woman and father her child as a result, yet Wally Backman can never, ever, shake one night in which a woman broke his arm.

      • crozier October 18, 2013 at 12:08 am
        I can’t let a dis of Delgado go by unanswered. The guy was Clemente-like in his charity work, and was a highly dignified and very smart guy. That he was not as comfortable speaking to the press as those for whom English is a first language isn’t surprising. You can be quiet with the press and still provide leadership and a positive presence. Billy Wagner was vocal in calling out his absent Hispanic teammates post-game. He was vocal about a lot of things when he’d have been better off shutting his mouth.
  6. Burns October 16, 2013 at 3:12 pm
    Respectfully, please remember that the Madoff bankruptcy “claw back” suit was hanging over The Wilpon’s heads when the decision was made to let Reyes walk. It would not have been prudent to commit to a $100MM contract, when a potential liability of a BILLION dollars was a real possibility.

    After the lawsuit had been settled, for a much lesser amount, Wright was signed to his deal. This was more sensible, as The Mets could actually budget for the lesser amount, that would need to be paid in the suit.

    Thank you.

    • Joe Janish October 17, 2013 at 8:56 pm
      Respectfully, remember that this is a Major League Baseball franchise operating in the largest market in the country. If ownership can’t leverage that fact honestly, and/or can’t handle the finances associated, then they shouldn’t be the owners. They are better suited to running a minor league franchise, if they wish to remain sports moguls.

      In other words, I don’t give a crap about the Wilpons’ legal / financial problems, because it’s a ridiculous excuse on so many levels. Did their real estate business fall apart as a result? Did all of their buildings fall down because of Madoff? Did MLB not have the power to change the situation? Maybe Bud Selig should have stepped in and forced a sale, much like he did with the Rangers, Expos, and Dodgers.

  7. DanB October 16, 2013 at 3:14 pm
    you have to admit posts like this one are more interesting then debating which FAs the Mets should sign nut won’t because they can’t afford them.
  8. Paul L October 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm
    you can have the face of the organization be a Hispanic when I see Hispanics paying 150 for box seats. OK.
    • NormE October 16, 2013 at 4:20 pm
      This is the dumbest comment I have ever seen ion this blog!
      • Joe Janish October 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm
        Agreed. First of all, I’ve seen Hispanics pay well over $150/seat for a Mets game. Second, if one is going to be so narrow-minded as to pinpoint one race, Hispanics are HARDLY the dominating demographic in Queens — the leading race is Asian.

        When I used the word “diverse,” I meant exactly that: a diverse group of several types of races — i.e., an area in which Caucasian people are the minority, therefore a ballplayer of any race would potentially identify with the local residents.

  9. Russell October 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm
    Aside from the quad injury this year DW’s injuries have been freak, he was hit in the head and the had a broken back after a collision. JR’s issues have been his legs. Not a fair comparision.
  10. DaveSchneck October 16, 2013 at 5:11 pm
    Joe,
    Alderson’s handling of Reyes was by far his worst moment of a rather undistinguished Met tenure. That said, it is premature to say he let him walk for absolutely nothing, as school is still out on Plawicki and Reynolds, the comp picks.

    Durability is easy to define after the fact, but a little harder beforehand. Based on their careers, and specifically the last three seasons that you frame, I don’t get any feel for who will be on the field more over the next 4 years. Perhaps a slight edge to DW only because Jose’s position and speed game are slightly more physically demanding. I’d be quite comfortable going into a season with either or both on my team.

    • Joe Janish October 17, 2013 at 9:08 pm
      It’s absolutely true that durability is harder to predict, which is exactly why I found this so fascinating: because by all signs, it seemed as though D-Wright would be the more durable, and as it played out, not so much.

      I’m hesitant to agree with the widely accepted notion that players relying on their legs tend to decrease in performance faster / earlier — perhaps because of people like Juan Pierre, Lou Brock, Maury Wills, Willie Wilson, Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson. It seems while players may lose a step, they’re still fast enough to use their legs to their advantage, especially if they can hit. And there’s no question that Jose Reyes can hit.

      Alternatively, I’ve seen many players not on PEDs who rely on power lose their bat speed almost overnight (Robin Ventura, Jason Bay) and see their value / performance plummet.

      I’m not saying that Reyes will definitely have a longer career than Wright, only that it’s really, really hard to predict.

  11. argonbunnies October 16, 2013 at 5:50 pm
    I expect both Wright and Reyes to have some injuries, push through them less as they get older and smarter, miss a little time here and there, and spend a lot of time not playing at 100%.

    Here’s the key difference: Wright at less than 100% is still David Wright. Reyes at less than 100% is not Jose Reyes. See before and after his injury in 2011:

    80 games, .927 OPS, 15 3B, 30 SB, good defense
    46 games, .784 OPS, 1 3B, 9 SB, mediocre defense

    It happened again this year: returning from a torn up ankle, he stole 15 bases and hit zero triples in 93 games, and defensive metrics didn’t like him.

    Of course, if Reyes adjusts more quickly to age, and Wright continues to try to play on pulled hamstrings, then Wright will suffer more serious injuries and DL time. But even if that does happen, is it safe for us to assume that Reyes wouldn’t be doing the same thing if he were still on the Mets?

    I wonder if the next market inefficiency might be health. Sit guys when they’re banged up, put ‘em back on the field when they’re ready to thrive, not just survive. I wonder if that factors into playing time on the Rays’ mix-and-match roster…

  12. argonbunnies October 16, 2013 at 6:01 pm
    As for Face of the Franchise, Reyes would have been a terrible choice thanks to his extreme moods, unprofessional antics, mental lapses, and awkward interviews. “Face” isn’t just about being a good player. Wright is pretty much perfect — accountable, available, articulate, pleasant, plays the game with dignity. The only ways he could improve would be by running out every ground ball and hitting better in the clutch.
  13. DaveSchneck October 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm
    Argon,
    Be careful with that wish of running out every ground ball. That’s what gave Joe fodder for this post. There’s a reason why Robinson Cano plays every game.
  14. Brendan October 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm
    Thank You Thank You Thank You.
    Due to “Off The Feild Issues” I have neglected my Mets blog. (Which I am not here to plug so I wont name it)
    One of my first orders of business when I got back to it was to point out exactly what you illustrated so well. I never wanted to consider the Wright or Reyes? dilema. It was a shame that one had to be chosen. My support was for Reyes simply because he was on of the most exciting players I have ever seen. He also playes a premium position that is getting thinner by the year. (T-Tul, Han-Ram, The one maybe 2 guys I am forgetting, the who Profar and Simmons are projected to be.) R&W was the left side of the onfield that I will always wonder how different things could have been if they were kept together. (And lets hope the Jays decide to trade what suddenly looks like a reasonable salary before Jeter retires because that is my worst nightmare come true.)
    Thanks