Look in the dugout during a Mets game. If you see Jose Reyes smiling, laughing and dancing, you know the Mets are winning and contending. If you see him anyway else, they are probably losing. We saw it happen in 2006. Reyes led the Mets with 194 hits, batting .300. He hit 37 doubles, 19 triples and 16 home runs. Oh, and least I forget he stole 64 bases. The end result was 97 wins and a playoff run that fell just short of a World Series appearance.
While the Mets were still winning in 2007 and 2008, Jose’s second half numbers slipped measurably. And Jose hit only .204 and .243 during the September collapses in each of those years. Jose was sulking and slumping, and sometimes not hustling. He was down on himself. He even had to endure for the first time in his career some boos by disgusted Mets fans.
It’s my opinion that as Jose Reyes goes, so go the Mets. And at the end of 2007 and 2008, Jose’s poor play brought the rest of the team down with him. Of course the collapses were more complicated than just putting the blame on Reyes. But his play and attitude had so much affect on his teammates. I think it is as simple as when Reyes plays well and is wreaking havoc on the bases, the Mets are an exciting and winning team. When the opposite is true, they lose.
It’s very simple. Jose is the most important of Mets team leaders. He leads by example and his teammates follow his lead. Unfortunately this is true on the downside as well. He brings them up or down to whichever level he is playing. There might be better team spokesmen like David Wright, Jeff Francoeur and Johan Santana. But no one has as large an affect on team play as does Jose Reyes.
Needless to say, the 2010 season will in a few weeks be half over. It has certainly been a topsy turvy season. But through it all the Mets find themselves, shockingly to most fans, nine games over .500 following Sunday’s loss to the Yankees. There are glaring weaknesses on this team, primarily the bullpen. But it seems to me that the Mets can overcome most adverse situations if Jose Reyes is having fun playing baseball.
Jose Reyes missed the last four months of the season in 2009. There were real question marks as to Jose’s future with the Mets. He got off to a slow start this year. But now he is leading this team again on the field. He is hitting for average and power, and running the bases with abandon. He is also playing flawless defense. His teammates are beginning to ride on his coattails.
Jose Reyes is the true leader of this year’s pack of Mets. If he keeps smiling, expect to see lots more hot times in the Citi this summer.