Friday, February 19, 2010

Why Reyes Hitting Third is a Bad Idea...

As I'm sure you already earlier today in a presser, Manuel has decided to piss me off by announcing he'd like to see Jose Reyes hit in third spot this season.  According to, it looks like Jose is being diplomatic about the whole thing and is saying he would fine with that.  Well, Jose, I don't need to be diplomatic about it, IT'S A BAD IDEA.

Here's why...

1) There is not a better lead-off option for the Mets than Reyes...

Jerry, you need to play to your strengths.  And Jose Reyes causes problems at the top of the order for opposing teams, especially when he gets on base. He is a player who just by being on base will give your number 2, 3 & 4 hitters more fastballs to hit.  Because, it's easier to throw out a runner off a fastball than any other pitch.  Because, this may sound stupid and obvious but is still worth repeating, they get to the plate quicker and are easier to catch (less break) which allows for a quicker release from the catcher.  Having that threat at the top of your line-up changes the game.

Jose Reyes, when he's played a full season, has never stolen less than 56 bases.  The other obvious candidates to replace him in the lead-off hole, Luis Castillo and Angel Pagan do not have the same success Jose does.  Luis Castillo has not stolen more than 30 bases since 2002 (48 SB, 7 seasons ago) and since then has not stolen more than 25 (which he did only once since 2002).  Angel Pagan on the other hand has never played a full season, or stolen more than 14 bases in a year, but that is mostly due to a lack of playing time.

2) There is a better number 3 hitter on the Mets than Reyes...

David Wright should be this team's number 3 hitter.  He drives in more runs, more consistently and will hit more homers.  David Wright has averaged 23 homers, 94 RBI and a .519 slugging percentage, and those numbers include his rookie year where he only had 14 homers and 40 RBI, and last year, 10 homers & 72 RBI.  Yes, I get that Wright had a bad year last year, but it was because of a lack of protection, not because he doesn't have the power/ability.  Even without giving him a pass for last season, Wright's 10 HR/72 RBI season is only slightly worse than Reyes career year (power wise) of 2006 where he hit 19 HR/81 RBI, while his career average is 13 HR/67 RBI, about 10 homers and 30 RBI less than Wright's average. 

Beyond the homers and RBI, Wright hits for a higher average and slugging more consistently.  His career average is .309 with a .518 slugging percentage, while Reyes checks in at a .286 average with a .435 slugging. 

Wright's numbers are flat out better, and why is that...some might say it's because Reyes is a lead-off hitter.  My response to that is, "exactly."

3) Hitting third changes your approach to an at bat...

If Manuel goes ahead and hits Reyes third, there's a good chance Reyes will see more breaking pitches.  Jose will not have the opportunity to take a big rip at the first fastball that comes his way, because there may not be a first fastball that comes his way.

Also, Reyes will probably be concerned with trying to pull the ball more for power.  That's a horrible thing for Manuel to put in Reyes' mind before spring training.  When a player tries to pull more and increase their power they have a tendency to strike out more, and pop-up more.  A number three hitter does not get paid to get singles and run the bases well, he gets paid to drive in runs.  Here are the other number three hitters in the NL East: Brian McCann/Chipper Jones, Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, Chase Utley. 

Who belongs more in this group, Wright or Reyes?

4) The Mets line-up is not deep enough to handle that move...

This is my biggest problem with the idea.  Although Reyes might be able to put up numbers for the three spot, even as an unorthodox number three hitter, what will the line-up look like?

Currently, it's safe to assume the line-up will shake out something like this opening day:

Reyes, Castillo/Pagan, Wright, Bay, Francouer, Murphy, Santos/Thole, Pagan/Castillo, pitcher.

Here's what it'll look like with Reyes at 3.

Castillo/Pagan, Pagan/Castillo, Reyes, Bay, Wright, Francouer, Murphy, Santos/Thole, pitcher.

Here's the problem with that, you're top two hitters are a guy the team doesn't even want and your back-up center fielder.  That could potentially mean that any pitcher facing the Mets could face three lead-off-type hitters in the same inning.  What does that accomplish?  The whole point of a line-up is to be balanced so that you can score in ANY inning of a game not just certain innings.  Since the Mets have Pagan playing CF (who I like but not as an everyday player), an undetermined catching situation and Castillo, you want to balance the power in the line-up.

Using Reyes lead-off puts one of your better hitters first, followed by either Castillo or Pagan who can bunt/hit & run, and then the heart of your order Wright and Bay.  There is no reason to put Reyes at three in order to make it seem like your line-up is better than it actually is.  Granted this line-up will be a lot better when Beltran returns, in the meantime it's not worth sacrificing the top of the order to add another name to the middle of the line-up.  Because the truth be told, Francouer averages 20 HR and 90 RBI throughout his career as well, that would scare me more than Reyes.

Overall, I think this is something Manuel is throwing out there in an attempt to look like he's shaking things up from last year.  But everyone was hurt last year, what is there to shake-up?  It's not like they all underperformed.  The only players who underperformed were Wright and Murphy, and that was because Wright's protection was Murphy, Tatis and Gary Sheffield.  You've got to be kidding me.  If I'm pitching against that line-up, I'm throwing the junk at Wright just because I don't want him to do the damage.

I think Manuel is in danger of over-managing here because he fears for his job.  Jerry, these guys are good ballplayers, let them play and your job will take care of itself...

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