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Passing on Jose Reyes

Just ten days ago, FanGraphs borrowed an idea from ESPN and held a Franchise Player Draft. When all was said and done, I think all of the FanGraphs contributors were ultimately happy with their picks. Though we felt good about our franchise players, many of the readers were quick to point out players they felt were snubbed. Of all the names mentioned, Jose Reyes has become the one player I’m surprised wasn’t selected during the draft. Still only 28, Reyes appears to have put his injuries behind him and he’s well on his way to his best season as a pro. Despite that, we decided he wasn’t worthy of a selection in the Franchise Player Draft. Is Jose Reyes making us look like fools?

One of the most surprising aspects about Reyes’ snub is the fact that many of the FanGraphs writers mentioned him as a runner-up to the eventual player they picked. Reyes was first mentioned by Jason Catania — who held the 16th pick — and then was mentioned by the next three writers- yet no one selected him. I held the next pick, and though I didn’t mention it in my write up, Reyes was probably my closest runner-up as well. Despite being mentioned in spots 16-19, and considered with my pick at 20, Reyes was never mentioned again.

The main reason behind the Jose Reyes snub appears to be his recent injuries. Reyes’ injuries are especially troubling because they affected the most important aspect of Reyes’ game — his legs. For a player that relies so strongly on his speed, leg injuries can be devastating. This season, Reyes appears to have overcome those injuries and is producing at an extremely high level. Reyes has already proven himself to be worth 4.2 WAR this season, good for second among all hitters. Injuries were certainly a concern going into the Franchise Player Draft, but that didn’t prevent me from taking Justin Upton with my selection. Upton was coming off a shoulder injury that sapped his production last season.

Age certainly played a factor in our decisions as well. Reyes is currently 28-years-old — that’s not old, but it isn’t necessarily young either. How many seasons of elite performance can you predict out of Reyes going forward? Five maybe? The allure of owning 10+ seasons of Justin Upton — including his peak — appealed to me more than grabbing a few elite seasons of Reyes. That’s a risk, of course, but that’s a big part of projecting players. I expect Upton to become an elite player soon. Since he’s only 23, I think his peak will be phenomenal. So, my selection was more contingent on my confidence in Upton rather than my pessimism with Reyes.

Still, I can’t fully justify why Reyes wasn’t selected in the draft. I’m certainly happy with my pick, but I wonder if fewer elite seasons as a more premium position would have been more valuable to my team. There are certainly reasons why Reyes wasn’t selected, and I attempted to spell some of those out in this piece. Problem is, one of those concerns — his health — no longer appears to be an issue. If we knew that for sure, I’m guessing Reyes would have been selected before I even had a chance to make my pick. I understand why Reyes didn’t make the initial cut, but I’m also worried that he’s already proving us wrong.