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Jose Reyes, First-Half Disappointment

Posted By Howard Megdal On July 1, 2011 @ 12:40 pm In Today's Mets headlines | Comments Disabled

Obviously, this title is a joke, the way I wish articles claiming the addition of David Wright to the lineup will prove hurtful were. But you may have noticed, in all the ridiculousness that has been Jose Reyes’s triples, stolen bases, multi-claw games, etc., one thing missing:

The slow trot around the bases.

Indeed, Reyes hit 19 home runs in 2006, 12 in 2007, 16 in 2008, and 11 in 2010. This season? Just three. That puts him on pace for six, which would be his lowest total in any full season- even in 2005, he hit 7.

To be clear, this isn’t a complaint, or a suggestion that Jose Reyes should change anything he is doing. Obviously. (Though apparently some people think David Wright is not a worthwhile addition. So I guess it is good that I’m making this point explicit.)

But it does suggest that in this way, Jose Reyes’s second half could be even better. Or more likely, that home runs will offset some losses as he regresses to the mean on batting average on balls in play.

Put simply: Reyes is hitting just as many fly balls as he did in any of his double-figure home run seasons. In fact, he hit 33.9% of his balls in play in the air in 2006, when he hit 19 home runs, and 38.9 percent in the air this year. So it isn’t a lack of fly balls.

Even better, his infield fly balls are actually down- in other words, fewer pop ups mean that more of his fly balls are traveling to the outfield, the gateway drug to leaving the park.

So what is the problem? Just 2.5 percent of his fly balls are leaving the yard. 2.5%. His career rate is 5.9%, and he’s been as high as 10.2% back in 2006 (hence, the fewer fly balls/more home runs thing).

Now, he may not return to his 2006 career high HR/FB rate, but he’s unlikely to remain this low. Reyes does have power, after all, and HR/FB tends to fluctuate pretty significantly.

His batting average on balls in play this year is .372, with a career mark of .314. So the smart money is on a regression in batting average. However, if he improves the home run numbers at the same time, you’ll have a second half awfully similar in production to the first half.

And if there’s any justice in the world, that’ll mean the Mets’ first MVP award, too.

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