Wednesday, November 9, 2011

If Not New York, Where Should Jose Reyes Play?

The Tour de Reyes is underway, with Jose making his first stop earlier today in Miami to tour the Marlins' new ballpark. According to Joe Frisaro (Marlins' beat reporter for, the free agent shortstop had lunch with Marlins' team officials at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, but did not sign a contract with the newly renamed Miami Marlins.

John Harper of the Daily News believes the Marlins are only going to offer Reyes a three-year deal with an average annual value exceeding $20 million.  Although the Marlins are willing to increase their payroll this year, the length of the deal is probably not enough for them to have a realistic shot to sign Reyes.

Other teams said to have an interest in Reyes include Milwaukee, Detroit and...oh yeah...any team who wants to improve their chances of winning and put extra fans in the seats!

If you were Jose Reyes, what would you do?  Could you imagine yourself being Ryan Braun's teammate, just months after you sat yourself down after one at-bat in the regular season finale in order to improve your chances of winning the batting title?  What about playing for strict disciplinarian Jim Leyland, who tells it like it is, even if it's not something you want to hear?

Never mind those two teams.  Could Reyes really see himself wearing this hideous jersey (see photo below, right) for the next few seasons?  He'd have to get his eyes checked if he did that.

So let's say Jose Reyes doesn't re-sign with the Mets.  Where would the best place be for him if he wants to continue to be an elite player?

With a career batting average of .292, Jose Reyes has always been an above-average hitter.  Obviously, as a member of the Mets, most of his games have come against National League teams.  However, have you seen his numbers in interleague play?

In 447 career at-bats against American League teams, Reyes has hit .304.  He has also been exceptional at making contact, striking out only 44 times in those 447 at-bats.  However, some of those 447 at-bats came in New York.  What has Reyes done when he's played in an American League park?  How about a .331 career mark in AL stadiums.  Did that get your attention?

Over his nine-year career, Jose Reyes has hit over .400 in five different stadiums.  Four of those ballparks are in the American League (Angels Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Comerica Park, Rogers Centre).  The other stadium in which Reyes holds a career batting above .400 is Olympic Stadium, a ballpark Reyes will never play in again regardless of which team he chooses to sign with.

If Reyes wants to go where the money and long-term security is, then the American League is the place for him.  He has thrived in interleague play, especially when the Mets were wearing the road grays (or alternate black jerseys, which are still better looking than those new Marlins unis).

However, there's one other ballpark we haven't looked at.  What about Citi Field?  A quick check of the numbers reveals that Reyes has had his fair share of success there as well.

This looks like a good fit to me.  Isn't that right, Jose?

Jose Reyes has played approximately one full season's worth of games at Citi Field (153 games).  In 626 at-bats in the Mets' home ballpark, Reyes has batted .319, picking up exactly 200 hits.  Reyes has excelled in the extra-base hit department at Citi Field, lashing 29 doubles, 20 triples and 13 home runs.  Just as he has done against the American League, Reyes' contact rate has also been exceptional at Citi Field.  The shortstop has struck out a mere 55 times in 626 at-bats.

One more thing about Reyes at Citi Field.  As any Mets fan knows, Reyes' game is in his legs, and at Citi Field, no one is better at stealing bases.  In 153 games there, Reyes has stolen 44 bases while being caught only four times.  His 92% success rate at Citi Field is his highest in any ballpark.  Reyes has been successful in 79% of his stolen base attempts at venues other than Citi Field.

If Jose Reyes chooses to leave the Mets, it would benefit him to move to the American League.  But why would he want to do that?  He could play 81 games a year at Citi Field, where he has performed well both at the plate and on the basepaths.  Besides, blue and orange will always look better on him than tangerine.

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