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Reyes - stealing machine or on-base wormhole

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Reyes - stealing machine or on-base wormhole

Postby ukrneal » Wed Jun 21, 2006 3:01 am

I remember the arguments at the beginning of the year about Jose Reyes. Some advocated that he was golden and would easily steal 50+ bases. Others claimed that he would fall to the 7th or 8th place in the lineup because his OBP was just too low for a leadoff hitter. Well, it seems the 'experts' have something to say too...

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=A ... &type=lgns
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Postby bigh0rt » Wed Jun 21, 2006 3:06 am

For those too lazy to click...

Tom Verducci wrote:Can a guy with a .338 on-base percentage be the best leadoff hitter in the National League? The question occurred to me recently as I watched the Mets' Jose Reyes score from second base on a dribbler to third against Philadelphia. When a throw home squirted just beyond the reach of catcher Sal Fasano, Reyes, never breaking stride, zoomed home with what really was a stolen run.

Last year, when I polled executives to pick the best 25-and-under shortstop (Bobby Crosby of Oakland won), one GM said of Reyes, "He runs fast and he plays in New York. That's why there's hype about him. That's it." I'm beginning to believe that Reyes is a much more useful and dimensional player than that, and his ability to hit for extra bases, steal bases and create havoc on the base paths more than compensates for his less-than-spectacular OBP.

"I'm not going to lie to you: Ideally, we'd love to see him improve his on-base percentage," said Mets GM Omar Minaya about Reyes. "In a perfect world, yes, you want your leadoff guy to have a high on-base percentage. But with Reyes you can't just look at on-base percentage. Look at his total bases. This guy hits doubles and triples. That's what I look at when I look at Jose Reyes.

"And can you imagine if he improves his on-base percentage on top of what he is already? My goodness, you're talking about a great, great player."

Well, you would be talking about the next Rickey Henderson. I covered Henderson with the 1985 Yankees when he scored 146 runs in 143 games. It seemed almost every night Henderson would walk, steal second, move to third on an out and score on some type of ball put in play by Don Mattingly, often another out. In other words, the Yankees often didn't need a hit to get Henderson home. Henderson's OBP that year was .422.

Reyes is unlikely to ever come close to that kind of OBP. But his .338 mark this year is a nice leap from his .303 career mark entering this season. The guy just turned 23 this month, after all. He's only three months older than the first pick in this year's draft, Luke Hochevar. I've never believed that a young player with poor plate discipline can make a quantum leap in that area -- it's a skill, like speed; you can work at it but your range of improvement only extends so far. But at least Reyes has dropped hints that he won't be the next Shawon Dunston, a guy who didn't show much improvement in that area as an every-day player.

If you rated leadoff hitters simply by their ability to get on base, Reyes would rank seventh of the 12 NL leadoff qualifiers, with Alfonso Soriano, David Eckstein and Dave Roberts leading the way. But would you really rather have Eckstein or Roberts than Reyes? Could they, for instance, have scored from second base on that dribbler to third?

To test Minaya's alternate perspective on leadoff hitters, I checked total bases from the leadoff spot. Here Reyes (129) jumps up to second, barely behind Soriano (131).

But wait. What about all those steals Reyes gets? When he turns a single into a "double," should he get credit for that base in his total, too? (Oakland manager Ken Macha believes so. He thinks steals could be folded into slugging percentage.) If you take total bases and add stolen bases and subtract caught stealings, Reyes churns up the most bases by far. The base gobblers are, in order, Reyes (152), Soriano (138) and Jimmy Rollins (132). And what about Eckstein, the guy with the better OBP? He is credited with only 103 bases under such a formula.

Eckstein happens to have the most times on base as a leadoff hitter (114), followed by Reyes (108), Rollins and Rafael Furcal (99 each). But Reyes is far more likely to score than Eckstein. Why? Sure, scoring runs is very dependent on the performance of teammates. But Reyes' ability to hit for extra bases, to steal bases and to take chances on the bases with his speed clearly compensates for the fewer times he reaches base.

To test that kind of thinking, check out this list of the highest likelihood a leadoff hitter will score a run when he gets on base: 1. Hanley Ramirez (54.4 percent), 2. Reyes (52.8), 3. Rollins (52.5), 4. Furcal (51.5). They are the only leadoff hitters who are more likely to score a run than not when they get on base. Eckstein? He's at 37.7 percent -- only the Cubs' Juan Pierre is worse -- in part because he rarely steals bases (five) and is last among leadoff hitters in extra-base hits (12).

By way of comparison, slow-footed Jason Giambi of the Yankees, an OBP machine, scores only 37.1 percent of the time he's on base.

Maybe Reyes is a fast-moving example of why OBP alone is not the be-all barometer of leadoff hitters. As Minaya said, "He's one of those guys who you really have to watch play over and over to appreciate what he does as a leadoff hitter and the disruption that he causes."

For now, I'm not ready to concede that Reyes is better as a leadoff hitter than a red-hot Soriano (another mold-breaking No. 1 guy). No one in the league is having a better season from there, even if Reyes is doing so in a most unconventional manner. Reyes is on pace to score 139 runs with an overall .338 OBP. The last player to score that many runs with an OBP that low was Tom Poorman in 1887. So maybe we're looking at a once-every-119-years exception. In any case, Minaya and the rest of Mets country ought not be too worried about Reyes' OBP.
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Postby tomkatt » Wed Jun 21, 2006 9:54 am

Interesting article. ;-D

I traded Huston Street & J.J. Putz for Reyes about two weeks ago. I drafted Peralta to be my SS, so it had been a problem spot for me most of the season. It isn't anymore. Reyes has stole a bunch of bases since I made that trade, and plenty of runs scored too.

I was leading in steals by two when I made the trade. I'm now up by 13. Reyes has allowed me to sit Figgy while I put a little more pop into my lineup.

I guess I should call him Mr. Reyes. ;-)

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C- Ramon Hernandez*
1B- Chad Tracy**, Chris Shelton**, & Justin Morneau
2B- Brian Roberts & Jorge Cantu**
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SS- Jose Reyes
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Postby Apollo » Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:56 am

I love Verducci, but it would have been nice if he had just touched on the fact that Reyes has Beltran, Delgado and Wright hitting after him.

I wonder why he scores every time he gets on base? Hm...
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Postby cordscords » Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:42 pm

He had 27 walks last year.

He already has 29 this year.

He is well on his way to becoming the best leadoff hitter in basebal ;-D
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Postby chadlincoln » Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:54 pm

cordscords wrote:He had 27 walks last year.

He already has 29 this year.

He is well on his way to becoming the best leadoff hitter in basebal ;-D
;-D ;-D

He's young and getting better all the time.
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Postby mathias » Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:08 pm

Also, his average has been fairly low, so his OBP should rise a bit with his average.
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Postby activechamp2006 » Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:23 pm

chadlincoln wrote:
cordscords wrote:He had 27 walks last year.

He already has 29 this year.

He is well on his way to becoming the best leadoff hitter in basebal ;-D
;-D ;-D

He's young and getting better all the time.


i think this kid could end up being a late first early 2nd rounder fantasy wise going into next season.. plus the best leadoff hitter in baseball.. hes like a carl crawford from shortstop ;-D
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Postby houstonoilers » Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:34 pm

To test that kind of thinking, check out this list of the highest likelihood a leadoff hitter will score a run when he gets on base: 1. Hanley Ramirez (54.4 percent), 2. Reyes (52.8), 3. Rollins (52.5), 4. Furcal (51.5). They are the only leadoff hitters who are more likely to score a run than not when they get on base. Eckstein? He's at 37.7 percent -- only the Cubs' Juan Pierre is worse -- in part because he rarely steals bases (five) and is last among leadoff hitters in extra-base hits (12).




Pulled that from yahoo....looks like Hanley has a little value as well.
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Postby garf112 » Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:49 pm

Apollo wrote:I love Verducci, but it would have been nice if he had just touched on the fact that Reyes has Beltran, Delgado and Wright hitting after him.

I wonder why he scores every time he gets on base? Hm...


I'd agree with that statement, but, then, how do you explain Eckstein, who hits in front of Pujols and Rolen?

All of the guys on the list have some big hitters behind them:

Ramirez- Cabrera, Willingham, Uggla and even Jacobs
Rollins- Utley, Howard, Burrell, Abreu
Furcal- Nomah, J.D. Drew, Kent, and the cast of thousands that have made the Dodgers offense good this year

Juan Pierre has NO ONE! D. Lee= injured, and A. Ramirez= slump, until June.

Don't get me wrong. It definitely helps Reyes to have all of the big bats behind him. But his speed is the reason why he scores more than half of the time that he is on base.
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