Put Yourself In Jose’s Shoes

I’m sure we’ve all been following along with what every baseball analyst and player thinks of Jose Reyes’ decision to remove himself from the game in the first inning of yesterday’s Mets season finale.

While I personally wasn’t too thrilled about this, I am super excited that Reyes became the first New York Met in their 50-year history to win an NL batting title. Now we just need a no-hitter, but that’s a different story.

A move like this though just goes to show that the game of baseball has changed from the past. Does the name Ted Williams ring a bell? Williams could have sat out the final day of the season in 1941 to preserve his .400 average. However, he played both games of a double-header and finished 6-for-8 on the day, raising his average to .406.

Still, 50 years from now, we will remember that Reyes won the 2011 NL batting title, not that he removed himself on the final day to accomplish this task.

In order to even be in a position to take himself out yesterday, Reyes was on fire over the last week, hitting at a 9-for-16 clip, as Joe D. pointed out.

The batting title is a marathon, not a sprint. Though Ryan Braun had 26 more official at-bats than Reyes this season (remember Reyes spent significant time on the disabled list), by rule a player needs 3.1 plate appearances per game to qualify for a batting title. Reyes averaged 3.3 at-bats per game based on a 162-game schedule, though he only played in 126.

Let’s all take a step back from the criticism for a minute. Put yourself in Reyes’ shoes.

No Met has ever won the batting title, though the franchise has had great hitters like Cleon Jones, Keith Hernandez, John Olerud and Mike Piazza—all of whom have hit at least .340 in a season in their careers.

Also, Reyes needed that little something extra as a bargaining chip heading into his free agency. Some teams may be weary of his injury history, and frankly a batting title shouldn’t downplay those concerns. But it still solidifies the point that when Reyes is on the field, he’s an extremely productive player.

If we could go back in time, I would have liked to see Reyes play maybe five innings yesterday. That could have been three at-bats at most. Even if he finished 1-for-3, he likely still would have won since Braun went 0-for-4 in last night’s game.

The fans could have given him a proper standing ovation in the fifth inning to thank him for a great season, and there wouldn’t have been all this hoopla surrounding the situation.

In the end, Braun will be the one playing in October, and that is—or at least should be—the ultimate goal of every player. Batting titles, MVP awards and Cy Youngs are nice, but winning the World Series is much more important.

If we have seen the last of Jose Reyes in a Met uniform, it was a nice ride. But was it really?

Though of course it’s more than a one-man game, Reyes never brought the Mets a World Series title, though they should have won it in 2006. He was also part of two teams that collapsed down the stretch.

In his Mets career, Reyes missed 315 games. While some of these were obviously off days, which are perfectly acceptable, the majority of these games were spent on the disabled list. That number amounts to nearly two full seasons of time missed.

So despite this mini-Reyes rant about yesterday, I definitely want to see him at shortstop for the Mets for the next decade. But will an organization with no money commit to a lucrative long-term deal with an injury prone player even though he’s the face of the franchise and just won the NL batting title?

Stay tuned this offseason to find out.

About Jim Mancari 255 Articles
Jim Mancari hails from Massapequa, N.Y. He earned a Master's degree in journalism from Hofstra University. He is a devout Mets fan and takes pride in his team, despite their lack of success over the last few years. Like all Mets fans, Jim has plenty of hope. He also writes as the sports reporter for the Brooklyn Tablet newspaper and the senior editor of metroBASEBALL Magazine. Be sure to visit http://www.jimmancari.com/