Jose Reyes has been on the disabled list for a week and a half now, his batting average frozen at .336 since injuring his hamstring on August 7. Despite this being his second trip to the DL, he has managed to maintain his lead in the National League batting race, although he is facing fierce competition from Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who is hitting .329 entering tonight's series opener at Citi Field.
The Mets have never had a batting champion in their first 49 seasons. John Olerud had the highest single season batting average for the Mets, hitting .354 in 1998, but he finished second to Colorado's Larry Walker (.363) in the batting race. Cleon Jones and Dave Magadan also came close, but fell just short of the crown. Jones hit .340 in 1969, finishing third behind Pete Rose (.348) and Roberto Clemente (.345). Magadan hit .328 in 1990, also finishing third in the NL batting race behind Willie McGee (.335) and Eddie Murray (.330).
So with Reyes clinging tenaciously to his slim NL batting lead, his teammates might be able to help him out this weekend. Ryan Braun, who has hit .375 (48-for-128) over his last 34 games, dating back to June 29, will be facing Mets pitching this weekend. If Mike Pelfrey, Chris Capuano and the Tweeter-rific R.A. Dickey can shut Braun down over the next three games, Reyes will increase his chances of becoming the first Met to win a batting title.
Braun is probably licking his lips with the knowledge that he's facing Mike Pelfrey tonight. Over his five year career, he is hitting .500 (3-for-6) against Pelfrey. (Then again, who isn't hitting .500 against Big Pelf?). However, he has yet to collect a hit against Capuano (0-for-3, 2 strikeouts) and Dickey (0-for-7). Against all Mets pitchers currently on the roster, Braun is hitting .245 over his career with only one home run in 56 plate appearances. The Mets will need to continue this trend against Braun if Reyes is to maintain his lead in the batting race before he comes off the DL.
Note: For a player to qualify for the batting title, he needs to accumulate 3.1 plate appearances for every game played by his team. Therefore, if the Mets play all 162 games this year (barring any rainouts not made up), Reyes would need 502 plate appearances to qualify for the batting title. At the time of his injury, Reyes had accumulated 462 plate appearances, leaving him 40 short of the magic number for batting title qualification, a number he should easily reach within the first week to ten days following his return from the disabled list.
Over their first half-century of existence, no Mets pitcher has ever been able to throw a no-hitter. At least if they can't pitch a no-no, they can help a fellow Met achieve something that no other Met has ever done. Holding Ryan Braun off the bases this weekend will go a long way towards making that a reality.