Thursday, March 25, 2010

Does Jose Really Need to Manage His Basestealing?

In an interesting article for the New York Post, Kevin Kernan makes a corrolation between the numbers of based Reyes steals and his inconsistent production down the stretch.  Kernan maintains that if Reyes keeps his stolen bases total reasonable he's less likely to "burn out" towards the end of the season and struggle at the plate in September.

Kernan uses stats to back up his argument, saying, "when he stole a NL-leading 78 bases in 2007, he hit .205 for the month of September with a .279 on-base percentage."  Kernan continues, "The next season Reyes stole 56 bases and batted .243 in September with a .314 on-base percentage. Each season the Mets collapsed down the stretch."  It's hard to ague with either stat, especially considering how each of those seasons ended for the Mets.

But, does that mean Jose will need to tame his stolen base numbers?

Although, I definitely see a corrolation between running and expending energy, I just find it hard to believe that the extra 100 sprints he runs are responsible for his decline in September.  Maybe it's something else?  Maybe Reyes just hasn't proven to be a big time player in clutch situations?

Reyes is only a .250 career playoff hitter, combine that with his bad September numbers and maybe he's just not a clutch player.  Trust me, I'd rather the stolen bases be responsible for his late season decline, but in my mind a professional athlete of his build is in such good shape that an extra 100 90-foot-sprints won't be enough to push him over the edge.

Besides, even Kernan himself acknowledges that a lot of what makes Jose dangerous is his motor.  Kernan quotes Reyes regarding keeping his running under control, saying, "I’m going to be smarter about it...It’s something I’m trying to do. Sometimes it’s hard for me because I want to go, go, go."  And that "go, go, go" is what other teams are afraid of dealing with.  That's why Jose in the three-hole was a bad idea.  You change the dynamic of the team, by trying to change a dynamic player.  It's not like Jose is making bad decisions on stolen base attempts, for the most-part you hardly ever think Jose should have held when he goes.  Combine that with the way other teams are forced to pitch to a team with Jose Reyes on the bases, and you see where an added value comes in that putting the reigns on Reyes might diminish.

Regardless, a major league season is long and grueling, no doubt, but let's consider other options.  Let Jose play the way he wants to play.  Maybe Manuel should just give the guy a few more days off during the season, instead of changing the way one of the most dynamic players in the league approaches his game...I mean Alex Cora DOES get paid for a reason, right?

On the whole though, it's tough to disagree with Kernan in that the Mets and their fans would rather have late-season success than a 70-base stealer...

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