The Mets Have A Jose Reyes Problem
A mere 14 games has been enough to determine an unsettling fact for the Mets: Jose Reyes no longer belongs on a major league roster.
It’s not just his .100/.182/.140 slash line, though a casual glance at those statistics certainly raise eyebrows.
Nor is it simply his two errors (compared to his three hits), one of which wound up costing the Mets a victory against the Phillies Tuesday night.
No- the difference between Reyes and the rest of the league is far deeper. It’s that not only has he been unable to perform, but that he looks looks completely lost in attempting to do so. And furthermore, that his on-field play is no longer worthy of the off the field scrutiny the club is receiving for employing Reyes given his past history with domestic violence.
The Mets are team designed to win right now. Because make no mistake about it, their championship window is set to close in two or three seasons.
The team is built around a bevy of power pitching arms that have already proven to be fragile. Zack Wheeler has missed the past two seasons with injury, we have yet to see Steven Matz on the mound this year, and Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey missed the end of 2016 due to season ending surgeries. Furthermore, Harvey’s contract with the Mets expires after the 2018 season.
New York’s also relies on a group of mostly 30 year old and over position players to produce runs. As we are already seeing with players such as Reyes and Curtis Granderson, Father Time stands undefeated.
Beyond the traditional statistics, a look at Reyes’ advanced metrics show that he is no longer the player he once was.
In his prime, Reyes had a strikeout percentage of roughly 7%. During his time with the Toronto Blue Jays and Colorado Rockies, his strikeout percentage rose to about 10%. Last year year in his return to the Mets, Reyes had a strikeout rate of 17.6%.
This season, Reyes is striking out at an alarming 25.5% clip- a remarkably poor mark for a player that is supposed to be a table setter and phenomenal bat on ball player.
Furthermore, when Reyes is making contact, he is having a hard time driving the ball with any force. Reyes’ batted balls wind up as line drives only 8.6% of the time, a far cry from the roughly 20% mark he’s hovered around for the majority of his career.
At 44.4%, Reyes is pulling the ball more than he has in his entire career, a telling sign for a player who won a batting title as a batter who could spray the ball across the whole field.
Reyes’ outside the zone contact, which measures how often a player makes contact with pitches outside of the strike zone, is the lowest it’s been since 2005 at 64.7%. This could be a sign of decreased athleticism for the former All-Star.
It’s clear that Reyes is no longer a dependable option at the big league level. But thankfully for the Mets, the club has an ample amount of options, all of which leave them still capable of contending in the National League.
Asdrubal Cabrera, who now roams the very position in Queens that Reyes rode to superstardom, has provided solid play for the Mets this season. Cabrera is batting .267/.302/.400 entering Wednesday night. But Cabrera is somewhat of a liability at shortstop, where he lacks the range to be considered a plus defender.
Cabrera could be better suited to play third base, the position Reyes currently occupies on an everyday basis. Should the Mets move Cabrera to third base, it would pave the way for the Mets to call up the 21-year-old Amed Rosario, the third ranked prospect in baseball according to MLB.com.
Rosario is currently batting .362/.392/.362 in the Pacific Coast League for the AAA Las Vegas 51’s. He is widely regarded as the long term solution at shortstop in Flushing, with an elite glove and contact bat.
Rosario is expected to become the full-time Mets shortstop in 2018, but the poor play of Jose Reyes could force the club’s hand. The worst thing an organization can do to a budding prospect is to force him into the big leagues too early, but if the Mets feel Rosario is ready they should not second guess expediting the process, especially given the team’s ability to win a World Series this season.
Another option for the club could be to use Rosario’s Triple-A teammate, Gavin Cecchini, as a short-term solution. Cecchini went 2 for 6 in a brief stint for the Mets last season.
The most likely scenario in the interim is to give Wilmer Flores, perennial fan favorite, a shot at the everyday third base job. Flores has been with the Mets since 2013.
Those who follow the Mets have long clamored for the team to give Flores a chance to play more often. He is known for terrorizing left-handed pitching but struggling with right-handers.
Of course, all of these options are presented with the assumption that David Wright will not be able to return this season. “The Captain” has appeared in only 75 games over the last two seasons.
Should the Mets rely on Rosario, Cecchini, Flores, or even Wright to produce at third base, one thing is clear- Jose Reyes is no longer the guy.