The Marlins’ addition of Jose Reyes not only affects the 29-year-old shortstop, but also has a great impact on two other Miami players.
In October I penned a piece about Jose Reyes’ outlook for the 2012 season, focusing on a few factors that could be a burden or boon to his overall performance, specifically his health and the location of his new team. The health issue should be the biggest concern to fantasy owners and has been well documented so I’ll be brief. From 2005-2008 he averaged 158 games played. He hasn’t topped 133 the last three seasons. Unless his hamstrings magically heal over the offseason it’s nearly a guarantee that he’ll miss time. When healthy he’s a constant source of steals, runs and batting average from the thinnest position on the diamond. That’s first round talent.
He should receive a boost in fantasy value thanks to the new lineup he’ll be surrounded by. A lineup with Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Mike Stanton, Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez and Emilio Bonifacio shouldn’t have difficulty scoring runs. We don’t yet know how the Marlins’ new stadium will play, but given this figure it’s going to be even bigger than San Diego’s PetCo Park. That may limit the amount of home runs Reyes hits but a big park allows him the opportunity to rack up triples like George Costanza racks up points in Frogger. Reyes should be a top tier fantasy performer for at least a few more seasons, and may slip further than he should in drafts due to the injury concerns.
The Marlins aren’t likely to be the first team to employ a two-shortstop defensive alignment, meaning Hanley Ramirez will slide over to third base. He’s unhappy about the move – hopefully his attitude doesn’t affect his contributions on the field. Batting third in the order, Ramirez will have plenty of RBI opportunities with Reyes in the lead off spot. Last season the Marlins one and two hitters combined for a .324 OBP. Reyes can do that in his sleep. Ramirez had shoulder surgery in September — the second procedure performed on that shoulder — but should be ready by opening day. An additional position added for Ramirez, especially another weak one like third base, only boosts his value. Continuing the domino effect, a healthy Ramirez means a position change for Emilio Bonifacio as well.
It’s unclear what the plan is for Bonifacio at this time. In a down season offensively for the Marlins he was one of the few bright spots, hitting .296/.360/.393 with 40 steals. Those numbers are supported by a .372 BABIP, which is a concern because if that number drops he’s nearly worthless due to his total lack of power (0.79 ISO). Hanley Ramirez’s move to third base, and Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton in the outfield corners, leaves center field as the only landing spot –barring a trade of Morrison. Bonifacio has competition in the form of Chris Coghlan and Bryan Peterson. Resident Malcolm Gladwell doppelganger Eno Sarris nicely handicapped the three way race yesterday. Like Mr. Sarris, I expect Bonifacio to begin the season with the starting job. Given Ozzie Guillen’s penchant for playing speedy outfielders, numbers be damned, he’d have to do a lot to fall out of a starting gig.