Jose Reyes: A Look to Next Year

After a sub-par 2010 and an injury riddled 2009, Jose Reyes burst back onto the scene in a big way this season. The 28-year-old had his best season per wOBA, finishing with a mark of .386, 20 points above his previous career high. He was great in the fantasy world as well, ending the season as the 29th rated player according to Yahoo! after coming in 103rd in 2010. The season likely wasn’t as good compared with his 2006-2008 years when he finished with more home runs, RBI, runs, hits and steals, but relative to league average it was a fine effort. When trying to predict what he’ll do in 2012 there are a few factors you need to consider.


He had one of the best first half’s in baseball, hitting .354/.398/529 with 30 steals and 15 triples. The wheels started to come off in July when he dealt with hamstring issues and played in just 15 games, putting up a .713 OPS. August was worse as he would play in eight games. He came back strong in September with an .858 OPS in 25 games but stole just four bases. Reyes, and his fantasy owners, are all too familiar with hamstring injuries seeing how he missed most of the 2009 season due to them. Wherever he plays next season, will he do as much running as he has in the past? Can he steal 40 bases again? Speed is the most important aspect of Reyes’ fantasy game, if he holds that back to save his legs it would put a hurt on his value.
Reyes had a great season, but his BABIP of .353 was .30 points higher than ever before and 11th highest in baseball meaning he got a bit lucky in his performance. Now some players always have high BABIP’s, but Reyes isn’t one. He’s normally in the ~.310 range. His expected BABIP was just .318 which is more in line with his career norms. xBABIP is influenced a lot by Ground ball to fly ball ratio and line drive percentage, which can fluctuate greatly from year to year. This season Reyes had his highest GB/FB and LD% since 2008. If you’re looking for him to hit .330+ with a .380+ OBP again you’re probably going to be disappointed.

We obviously don’t know where Reyes will end up in 2012, but there are a few teams with holes at shortstop that jump out. If Reyes resigns with the Mets he may get a slight boost in power since they’re bringing in the walls at Citi Field, where he already hits very well. The Giants will be in need of a shortstop, but AT&T Park is one of the toughest parks for hitters. If the Red Sox decline to pick up Marco Scutaro’s $6 million option (which I doubt) Reyes would be a great fit in Fenway.
He will no doubt be a high selection once again but as great as his performance in 2011 was there are still many things to be wary of come draft day 2012.
What do you all think?

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Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.

5 Responses to “Jose Reyes: A Look to Next Year”

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  1. Aaron says:

    You doubt that the Sox will decline Scutaro’s option? Or doubt that they will exercise it?

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    • nilbog44 says:

      good question. that was poorly worded. i think he meant he doubts they will pick up scutaro’s option. but i’m not sure

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  2. White Mountain Jack says:

    “AT&T Park is one of the toughest parks for hitters”

    Not for hitters who specialize in triples, like Reyes. I would assume that he would flourish there, actually. I would agree that hitters like Dunn, Pena or any other one-dimensional hitter would be a bad fir for the park, but that is a completely different type of hitter than Reyes.

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  3. BurleighGrimes says:

    Re: Reyes’ BABIP — I totally agree that it is unsustainable going forward, and that there is going to be regression with his batting avg…

    Having said that, however, I have a question (call it an alternate theory–though I am not discounting luck as a major factor, I wonder if it is the ONLY factor in explaining Reyes’ increased BABIP):

    Could his very low HR numbers (he hit only 5 in 2011) have anything to do with the inflated BABIP? In his other best years (’08, ’06) he hit 16 and 19 HRs respectively (and his BABIP was at ~ .320 to this year’s ~.350. My understanding of BABIP is that HRs are NOT balls in play and thus don’t “count” towards BABIP. Both of those high BABIP/high HR (relative for Reyes, of course) years were at Shea, and his previous two years at Citi have been extremely abbreviated due to injury. Could some of ’06 HRs have turned into booming triples/doubles deep in the caverns of Citifield, the first year where he’s had an extended healthy stretch playing at Citi? Reyes’ numbers at Citi were sparkling this year, as he hit 15 of his 16 triples at home (!), and had much better overall numbers at Citi than away. Of course, this obviously doesn’t account for everything the whole difference as his batting average is a career high by a wide margin.

    However…if it’s not *only* BABIP that explains Reyes’ monster year (well, more like monster 1st half), then we’d have to look for alternate/additional explanations. Even if BABIP is a big factor, other things may be at play than (just) luck. One number that really jumps out at me is his extremely diminished K% — 7%, much lower than his career number of almost 11% before the season started. That’s a huge difference! I heard/read earlier in the season that Reyes’ big goal before the season was to amend his approach at the plate in such a way as to reduce his Ks, feeling that more BBs would also come (he also increased his walk rate from an abysmal 5.1% in 2010 to a more respectable 7.3% in 2011, a bit higher than his 6.8% career number). He told the media that he “hates striking out” and that he only wanted to make solid contact going forward (hey, we all can dream, right?). It seems that he succeeded in this to some degree by drastically reducing his K%, (though interestingly his OSwing% is up from career norms while his ZSwing% is significantly down). He also posted one of the better line drive rates of his career.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. I guess only time will tell if Reyes’ new approach actually means something, or if it just happens to correspond to BABIP noise.

    I am not sure if mathematically this makes sense, or exactly makes sense in terms of batted ball theory. If it doesn’t, go easy on me cuz it’s midnight on a random Wednesday night, and I’m exhausted from watching Valverde’s extra-inning meltdown tonight…and for some reason decided to do some fangraphs sleuthing.

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