Time To Bench Reyes Or Move Him Down In The Lineup

After the game last night, Terry Collins joked, “I’ve got the FBI looking for the real Jose Reyes right now.”

Instead of having the FBI look for Reyes, Collins should have the FBI look for a better option at third base and to bat lead-off.

Now, no one can reasonably believe that Reyes is as bad as his current 1-for-27 streak. Even with Reyes fighting it since Spring Training, you’d expect him to at least draw an occasional walk  or beat out a throw with his speed. Reyes is better than this.

And yet, Reyes still isn’t good enough to be asked to play everyday and lead-off. Since Reyes’ career year in 2011 when he became the first Mets player to win a batting title, he has been on a steady decline. That decline has been accelerated the past three years.

Consider during his first go-round with the Mets, Reyes was a .292/.341/.441 hitter who averaged 25 doubles, 11 triples, nine homers, 47 RBI, and 41 stolen bases a season.  In that time, he accumulated 27.9 WAR. However, Reyes was more than just stats, he was a dynamic shortstop whose exuberance pumped up the team and the crowd. He was a catalyst.

Since leaving the Mets, Reyes has been a .281/.331/.410 hitter and since 2014 his on-base percentage has dropped to .316 – certainly not what you want to see from your team’s leadoff hitter and a far cry from the .361 OBP he produced the three previous seasons.

Reyes, 33, is certainly in decline, but even more so as a left-handed batter, batting .221/.272/.341 since joining the Mets.

When you can’t hit right-handed pitching anymore, you can’t play everyday. When you have a .316 OBP since 2014, you can’t hit lead-off.

The issue here is that this is a problem with no easy solution. Wilmer Flores has the same issues against right-handed pitching. Many Mets’ fans solution would be to platoon him with Kelly Johnson, who is still a free agent, and at this point you have to assume the Mets really aren’t interested in him.

T.J. Rivera was a big part of the Mets push to the Wild Card last year, but it’s doubtful he can play everyday as his aggressiveness at the plate has suppressed his OBP in his minor league career.  It’s probably still too early to consider Gavin Cecchini or Amed Rosario to get the call-up. No one can reasonably say when David Wright will return.

And with that, the Mets are likely out of third base options. Arguably, Reyes is still the best option at third base. But that argument gets harder and harder to defend with each out he makes.

One thing that is indefensible is batting him lead-off. His OBP demands he hit lower in the lineup. His struggles this season beg for it to happen sooner rather than later.  In his place, the Mets can literally pick anyone else as they cannot possibly be this poor. Ideally, that someone would also play third base. Unfortunately, that player does not exist, at least not right now.

Perhaps that player will be discovered as part of the FBI investigation.

About John Sheridan 712 Articles
John was raised to be a Mets fan by birth, and now he is raising a Mets fan of his own. He also uses Sabermetrics to either confirm the proverbial eye test or to see if we're seeing things with Mets colored glasses. He looks forward to bringing this perspective to MMO. His work, including the tales of raising his son a Mets fan, can also be seen at MetsDaddy.com.