Jose Reyes is an outstanding athlete and baseball player. This season has been incredible, which is exactly what he needed to cash in as a Free Agent after the 2011 season, as he has a .354/.398/.529 line. He is leading the league in runs (65), hits (124), triples (15), and batting average (.354), showing the explosive speed and hitting ability that has made him the object of affection by fantasy players and scouts alike. However, there is something that missing in his skill-set, or at least something that isn’t worthy of another huge payday.
Jose Reyes is injury prone. Look at this history:
2003: Placed on the 15-day DL on Sept. 5 with a Grade 2 left ankle sprain that ends his season.
2004: Placed on the 15-day DL on March 15 with a strained right hamstring, which keeps him sidelined until June 19.
2009: Playing with a right calf strain, Reyes leaves game on May 21 after aggravating injury. Placed on the 15-day DL, does not return that season. Leaves a minor-league rehab assignment game on June 3 with what is called “discomfort in his right calf.” The next day, the Mets announce that Reyes has a tear in his right hamstring tendon. The Mets announce on Oct. 5 that Reyes will have offseason surgery to clean up scar tissue around the hamstring tendon.
2010: Placed on 15-day DL with hyperactive thyroid, reinstated April 10. On June 30, suffers an injury to right side in batting practice, misses six games. On July 10, he re-aggravates injury, does not return until July 20. Removed from a game on Aug. 26 after aggravating oblique injury. Does not return until Sept. 10.
2011: Placed on 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain.
Reyes is not only injury prone, he just isn’t as great as people make him out to be. His career line of .291/.340/.441 is solid, but is it much better than .280/.355/.441? That is the career line that Jimmy Rollins had after his age 28 season. Rollins won the MVP in his age-28 season, 2007, just as Reyes looked to be on his way to doing. However, Rollins signed an extension in June of 2005, early in his career, locking him up for 6 years at “just” $46.5 million, giving up arbitration years for security. Reyes has played the arbitration system to an $11 million salary this season. However, based on their production to this point, (Rollins had 4317 AB to Reyes current 4266) Rollins was more valuable. Does that mean that Rollins is a better player when they both hit the Free Agent market this winter? Absolutely not. But Rollins decline after his age-28 season is the exact reason why Reyes isn’t worth a huge contract.
Since the 2008 season, Rollins is hitting .259/.352/.411. His numbers have gone down in most cases across the board since 2007, particularly speed based statistics (though he did miss 74 games in 2010 and has played in 84 games so far this season):
2B: 2007 (38), 2008 (38), 2009 (43), 2010 (16), 2011 (15)
3B: 2007 (20), 2008 (9), 2009 (5), 2010 (3), 2011 (1)
SB: 2007 (41), 2008 (47), 2009 (31), 2010 (17), 2011 (19)
Statistics can be manipulated in many ways to help create arguments, however, Reyes and Rollins are and have been similar players. At no point did anyone think that Rollins was worthy of a $100 million contract. Someone paid Carl Crawford that kind of money and he won’t be the last, but paying Jose Reyes that type of contract is a huge mistake. Not only can he not stay healthy, but he isn’t as elite as the hype-machine has made him out to be. He is a special player because he can run fast and hit for power. When he is 32-years-old, he’d be lucky to be the player that Jimmy Rollins is. He’ll be lucky to still have speed. He’ll be lucky that he got paid a huge salary by some sucker-of-a-team because he’ll be watching his teammates while he is on the bench or a trainer table with another injury that aging speed players tend to always have.