As I’ve written time and time again, Jose Reyes is the number one catalyst for the Mets offense. When Jose gets on base, he 1) often represents a run in scoring position (which is great unless Luis Castillo is batting next) and 2) disrupts pitchers by serving as one of the league’s most dangerous stolen base threats. The Mets’ most serious offensive problem this year, even more important than Carlos Delgado‘s lack of production, is Reyes’ failure to get on base. Here are some stats comparing Reyes to the NL East’s other leadoff hitters as ranked by On Base Percentage:
1. Hanley Ramirez: .322 BA, .591 OBP, .591 SLG, 9 SB, 19 RBI
2. Felipe Lopez: .281 BA, .349 OBP, .344 SLG, 4 SB, 12 RBI
3. Kelly Johnson: .268 BA, .333 OBP, .433 SLG, 3 SB, 10 RBI
4. Jose Reyes: .263 BA, .326 OBP, .449 SLG, 10 SB, 12 RBI
I didn’t include the Phillies because Jimmy Rollins has been injured for so much of the year. The point here is that, compared to the rest of the division, Reyes is not getting on base. And that lack of excitement on the bases is making it easy for pitchers to get around the rest of the Mets order (which is 20th in the MLB for OPS, 23rd for RBIs, 25th for HR, and 26th for BA).
But if Reyes is out, who to replace him with? How about David Wright? David’s OBP of .394 is far superior to Jose’s, and would be tied for 4th in baseball with Nate McLouth. David walks far more (23) than Jose (12), and is also a base-stealing threat. A hitter who hits well, has a great eyes and steals a lot of bases? Sounds like a leadoff hitter to me. But putting the team’s best player in the leadoff position, that would be crazy, right? Just ask the Florida Marlins (Hanley Ramirez). Or the Orioles (Brian Roberts). Or Seattle (Ichiro). Here’s how the batting order could look, should this change ever happen: Wright, Reyes, Church, Beltran, Alou, Delgado, Schneider, Castillo. I’m not advocating making this a permanent switch; a couple weeks batting second could do wonders for Reyes. Another candidate for the leadoff spot could be Carlos Beltran, who leads the Mets in walks, and, like Wright, is also a threat on the bases. Beltran is not hitting, which could make a switch very desirable as well. If that were to happen, look for a possible batting order like this: Beltran, Reyes, Wright, Church, Alou, Delgado, Schneider, Castillo.
Out of the box? Maybe a little bit. But look at Detroit, where manager Jim Leyland just decided to totally revamp the batting order to try and get some chemistry going in his lineup. That is the kind of smart managing that wins games. Saying “Reyes will get it together” and hoping for the best does not. Would Willie ever consider this kind of switch? Don’t count on it.