In the most recent issue of The New Yorker, New York Mets owner and CEO Fred Wilpon was highly critical of several of his players. Wilpon in particular called out shortstop Jose Reyes, who is playing in the last year of his 5-year, $33.75 million contract.
“He thinks he’s going to get Carl Crawford money,” Wilpon said, referring to the seven-year, $142-million contract Crawford signed with the Boston Red Sox this winer. “He’s had everything wrong with him,” Wilpon said of Reyes. “He won’t get it.”
Wilpon is right- Reyes will not get Carl Crawford money. Instead, Reyes will sign a bigger contract than Crawford did this past offseason. Despite a checkered injury history, there is no one who is more dynamic and exciting on a baseball diamond when healthy than Jose Reyes.
It’s almost as if Reyes’ game is designed to catch the audience’s eye. Few players are faster. Few shortstops have a better arm. And nobody excels at pulling off the most exciting plays in baseball with such regularity as Jose Reyes. He has led the majors in stolen bases and triples in three different seasons and currently paces all players with 6 triples and 17 stolen bases.
Speed is not the only thing that Reyes bring to the table. In 2008, he led the National League with 204 hits and is currently on pace to do the same this season. He possesses solid career numbers, hitting at .287/.336/.435 with 75 home runs, 394 RBIs, 1181 hits and 348 stolen bases in nine seasons. Those numbers are eerily similar to Crawford’s, who owns a career batting line of .293/.334/.438 with 105 home runs, 605 RBIs, 1517 hits and 415 stolen bases in 10 seasons. The discrepancies in home runs, RBIs, hits and stolen bases are due to the fact that Crawford has remained healthy for almost his entire career, playing seven seasons of more than 140 games, while Reyes has played in only four seasons of over 140 games.
There are two reasons, that despite his injury history, Jose Reyes will sign a bigger contract this winter than Carl Crawford did in the past one. One is the position each plays. Teams place a higher value on players who play up the middle, meaning that shortstop is a more valuable position than left field, where Crawford plays. The other is the greater potential that Reyes bring to the table. When he is healthy, he is a better player than Carl Crawford. In Reyes’ four full seasons, he hit a combined .287/.342/.442 while averaging 14 home runs, 66 RBIs, 64 stolen bases, 195 hits, 32 doubles and 16 triples per year. Those numbers are superior to Crawford’s 162-game average of a .293/.334/.438 batting line with 13 home runs, 77 RBIs, 53 stolen bases, 192 hits, 28 doubles and 13 triples. Crawford’s one advantage is in RBIs, a statistic that is based more upon the talent around a player in the lineup and where that player is positioned in the lineup. Batting mostly second and third in Tampa Bay, Crawford was given many more RBI opportunities than Reyes has leading off in New York.
Fred Wilpon may be severely underestimating Jose Reyes’ value to the New York Mets. Reyes’ skillset and potential as a shortstop will have teams chasing after him hard in free agency in the coming winter. While it is rumored that Reyes enjoys playing for the Mets and would give them a hometown discount, the Mets will still have to pony up a lot of money to keep Reyes away from the giant contracts he will see from other teams. When Wilpon said Reyes would not make Carl Crawford money this offseason, he was right. Teams will be willing to pay even more money to baseball’s most dynamic and exciting player.