Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So How Great Was Jose Reyes' Season Anyway?

Come closer to the screen.  I want to let you in on a little secret.  Are you with me?  Okay, here goes.

Jose Reyes won the National League batting title this year.

What was that?  You knew that already?  You want me to tell you something you don't know?  Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you.  In fact, I have a number of things to tell you that you probably didn't know.  And once I tell you, you'll see that Jose Reyes' 2011 season was even greater than you originally thought.

 You had to look up to see Jose Reyes' name all over the National League leaderboard in 2011.

Jose Reyes batted .337 in 2011, the third-highest single season batting average in franchise history for a player who played the entire season as a Met.  (Mike Piazza batted .348 in 109 games for the Mets in 1998, but he also spent time with the Dodgers and Marlins that year.)  Naturally, Reyes' batting average represented a career high.  But he also set career highs in on-base percentage (.384), slugging percentage (.493) and OPS (.877).

Reyes also finished among the league leaders in hits (181), multi-hit games (57), runs scored (101), triples (16) and stolen bases (39).  He accomplished all this while playing in only 126 games due to his dual trips to the disabled list.

Fine.  You can find that information anywhere.  Now let's delve deeper into his final numbers.

On May 19, Jose Reyes went 0-for-3 with a walk.  The following day, he went 0-for-4.  That was the only time during the 2011 season in which Reyes went hitless in consecutive starts.  (On September 17 and 18, Reyes also failed to collect a hit.  However, he did not start the game on September 18, going 0-for-1 in a pinch-hitting appearance.)  Furthermore, since Reyes drew a base on balls in the May 17th game, that means he was never kept off base in consecutive games all year.  Let me repeat that in caps and bold it for greater effect.


If you didn't see Reyes standing (or sliding) safely on/into a base in a game this year, all you had to do was wait until the next game.  There was a 100% chance you'd see him on base then.

Although Jose Reyes has always been a bit of a free swinger, he has never been one to strike out very much.  (Reyes' career high in strikeouts is 82, which he accomplished in 2008.)  But he had never made such consistent contact until this year.

In 2011, Reyes struck out 41 times in 537 official at-bats, an average of one strikeout every 13.1 at-bats.  Reyes was the toughest man to strike out in the National League, with every other player striking out at least once every 11 at-bats.  Yadier Molina finished second in this category, striking out once every 10.8 at-bats (44 Ks in 475 AB).

Let's put Reyes' numbers into perspective.  For Yadier Molina to have finished with a better K/AB rate than Reyes, he would have had to register 40 more at-bats in 2011 without striking out in any of them.  Also, if Reyes had picked up 10 more at-bats and had struck out all ten times, Molina would have surpassed him.  But Reyes only struck out more than ten times in a calendar month once, when he whiffed 11 times in April, so it would have been very unlikely for him to strike out in ten consecutive at-bats.  In fact, Reyes never struck out more than twice in any game this year and he fanned more than once in a game only six times, never doing so after July 24.

 Reyes the slugger?  Absolutely, as you'll read in the next paragraph.

Finally, let's take a look at the National League leaders in slugging percentage.  (You can find that info by clicking here.)  Jose Reyes finished 17th in the National League in slugging percentage.  He did so while hitting only seven home runs.  Why is that worth mentioning?  Because the other 16 players who finished ahead of Reyes hit at least 22 HR.

What makes this more amazing is that Reyes was the only player in the top 34 to hit fewer than 14 HR.  Therefore, Reyes finished the season as one of the best "sluggers" in the league even though the other 33 players in the top 34 all hit at least twice as many home runs as he did.  Of course, Reyes collected 47 extra-base hits that WEREN'T home runs (31 doubles, 16 triples).  The only player in the National League who topped Reyes in that category was the Rockies' Dexter Fowler, who hit 35 doubles and 15 triples.

Those are just a few examples of how great Jose Reyes' 2011 season was.  Reyes was more than just a high average hitter.  He was as consistent a hitter as the Mets have ever had in a single season.  He put the ball in play with more regularity than any Met in their 50-year existence and once he put the ball in play, he wasn't just satisfied with dinking and dunking singles here and there.

Jose Reyes had one of the most amazing seasons in Mets history in 2011.  Let's hope the Mets re-sign him so we can enjoy more seasons such as this one.

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