- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

Trade Me Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes was drafted as a three category juggernaut in a prime position. Owners expected him to be near the top of the league in steals, average, and runs as he will hit atop a lineup that was expected to be very formidable. Things have not quite gone as planned, despite having an extremely healthy first half.

Reyes has not played more than 133 games since 2008, so his 80 games played through the midway point of the season is certainly a positive. Despite playing in all but one game, Reyes is on pace to score the lowest amount of runs in any full season — currently on pace for 81.

Along with his struggles with scoring runs, which can be contributed to team wide lineup underperformance as well, Reyes also has the lowest batting average than he has ever had in a season with more than 50 games. While he is still stealing bases at a high rate and would tie last year’s total if this season were extrapolated to 162 games, he has really been a one category guy this year and one of his teammates who has played just 39 games is still ahead of him in that one category — Emilio Bonifacio has 20 steals in 170 PA.

With all of this said, I am very bullish on Reyes and am targeting him in almost every league. Most owners won’t be sour on Reyes, but they likely won’t value him as highly as they did out of the draft. It should be possible to acquire Reyes at somewhat of a discount, and owners could be willing to part with him due to his injury history.

One quality that I have loved about his game this year is his walk-to-strikeout rate, which at 1.09 is the highest of his career. Not only has that ratio increased, but his walk rate has received a nice bump as well to 10.1% from last year’s 7.3%. The average won’t match his season end .337, but as his average rises — .290 BABIP compared to .312 career and has been over .300 every year since 2006 — I expect him to have more opportunities to steal bases and subsequently score runs.

The injury risk is always there, but Reyes looks like a quality buy-low candidate. He should score runs at a higher rate and hit for a higher batting average over the course of the next few months, and I suspect that he steals bases with more regularity if he manages to stay healthy for the remainder of the season. I will gladly take Reyes off your hands if you are beginning to think the speedster is on the decline.