Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Major League's Most Valuable Shorstop

Fred Wilpon got a lot of ink this past week for some statements he made in the New Yorker magazine concerning some of his players. One of the players that Wilpon mentioned was Jose Reyes. Wilpon was quoted as saying something to the effect that Reyes will want Carl Crawford kind of money after he becomes a free agent and he won't get it. The way Jose Reyes is playing right now, maybe he should get it. Because as it stands now, Jose Reyes is the most valuable shortstop in the major leagues this season according to Fangraphs' leader board.

Jose Reyes lost most of his season in 2009 and 2010 started with real concerns about his health. But after those early concerns, Reyes got back on the field in 2010 and stayed there. His 2010 season ended up with less production than he showed in the years prior to 2009 and that combined with a bad season for the Mets led to speculation about how good a player Reyes was. The .321 on base percentage last year as a lead off batter didn't do much for his reputation either. Plus, his fielding metrics took a dive.

But this year, Reyes is better than ever. His current numbers are showing career highs in several categories. His fielding is back (according to the fickle fielding metrics we have at our disposal). His batting average of .324 and on base percentage of .378 lead all major league shortstops. His home run power is behind where he's been in the past, but he is hitting doubles and triples at a prodigious pace. Plus, he's stolen 19 bases already in 23 attempts. It certainly appears that he is back as an elite shortstop.

The big question though is where he'll finish out his year. The Mets have indicated that they have to slash payroll and after Wilpon's statements, there probably isn't any hope the Mets could ever sign Reyes to a free agent contract. And as such, it makes sense for the team to trade him now while he has the most amount of value. Several contenders could use a shortstop rental in a guy like Reyes. The Cardinals and Tampa come to mind. The Giants are another team that could benefit from Jose Reyes.

This Fan understands the economy behind such a trade for the Mets. But it's a real goat screw for Mets fans. Jose Reyes can be one of the most exciting and personable players in baseball. His smile and playing style simply light up otherwise gloomy nights at Citi Field. And now that light could be extinguished in New York for the simple reason that the Mets' economy can no longer afford him.

But it sure seems that wherever Reyes ends up this season, he is back to being a pure force at the shortstop position in an era with a dearth of such players. With the downside of Jeter's career, there are few shortstops that can add as much value as Reyes. Somebody is going to pay him good money when this season is over. You can count on that.

And in one last side note, the fan leaves you with a War Chart courtesy of comparing the early careers of Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes. Enjoy him Mets' fans, while it lasts.

No comments: