Saturday, October 8, 2011

Free Agent Watch: Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes is coming off his career highs in OBP, Slugging, and OPS, and has only played in an average of 98 games a year in the past 3 years due to injuries. This should all spell scary to people who have studied recent free agent contracts. At 28, Reyes is about to get a lot of money, and a lot of years. One may argue that the disaster of Carl Crawford might temper the market a little, but there are 2 or 3 big time contract disasters every year, and yet this stuff still happens every year. 2011 was his second best season according to WAR, at 5.8 (he had a 5.9 WAR in 2006). According to the Halladay Standard, this is worth 17.4 million dollars (he made 11 million). However, over the past 3 years, he has only averaged a 2.9 WAR, worth 8.7 million dollars. His defense has diminished as well, as he has put up negative defensive WARs in the past 3 years (this was included in the overall WAR). Also concerning is his low OBP, which is .341 for his career, the league average in his career is .335. How much are you willing to pay for a guy who will get on base just .006 more? The same can be said for both slugging and OPS, he is above average, but not by much. He had a good PPG of 1.52 and a very good PAPP of 2.23 in 2011. His career averages are 2.43 PAPP and 1.54 PPG. Solid numbers for sure. More in the file of concern however, is the BABIP. His career number is .314, but in 2011, it was .353. This can mean a couple of things. He either hit the ball much harder in 2011, or he was extremely lucky in 2011 (or some combination of both). If his GB/FB ration and Line Drive percentage is any indication, the team that unloads a bunch of money on Reyes next year could be in a lot of trouble. For the past 3 or 4 years, including 2011, those numbers have stayed about the same. There are some encouraging numbers though, as he walked more than he struck out (no small feat) and was best in the league by striking out just 1 every 13 at-bats. However, this is a big change from his career numbers (his career K/BB ratio is 1.53, and in 09 and 10, he had a ratio over 2). He also hit less homers than usual, hitting a HR just every 76.7 at-bats, when his career number is 55. He also faces some of the curses that many contact hitters face, his pitches per plate appearance both in 2011 and his career, is below league average. Other concerning metrics include Isolated Slugging (never over .200, just .149 in his career), and Secondary Average (Total Bases-Hits+Walks+SB-Caught Stealing) which has not been over .300 in the past 3 years, and a .286 career average (.400 is considered pretty good, .500 is considered excellent). Reyes is a solid player, however, he is about to get overpaid, both according to the Halladay Standard, and to the more advanced metrics. If I were the Mets, I would let him go, take the two draft picks, and use the money to bring in other young players.

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