Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 12, 2003
BASEBALL: Mets Shortstops
With Jose Reyes out for the season, finishing at a more than respectable (for a 20-year-old shortstop) .307/.434/.334 with 13 steals in 16 attempts and 47 runs scored in 69 games, a pace for 30 steals and 110 runs. Reyes was totally overmatched early on, batting just .209 through July 11, but once he caught on, he hit an impressive .355/.486/.395 the rest of the way.
Reyes' propensity for hamstring injuries, combined with his season-ending ankle injury, are causes for concern. Still, given the history of Mets shortstops, you'd have to believe that he won't have to keep this up for very long at all to be the best the Mets have had at a position that has long been a sore spot for the franchise.
Well, to look at that question objectively, I took a look through Bill James' Win Shares book, as well as at online calculations for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Through September 7, Reyes ranked fourth on the Mets with 12 Win Shares, which projects out to 28 if he could keep this up for a full season's worth of games. How does that stack up against Mets shortstops of the past? I looked at the shorstop with the most Win Shares for the Mets for each season of their history:
Bear in mind, here, that a Win Share is a third of a win, so an everyday player who's worth 10 Win Shares (just over 3 wins) isn't contributing all that much. Some observations:
*Average Win Shares, Mets starting shortstops: 9.83
*Total Win Shares, Mets starting shortstops over 42 seasons: 413. Total Win Shares, Robin Yount: 423.
*The Mets have twice won the National League pennant (1986, 2000) without a shortstop who contributed 3 wins to their bottom line.
*The single-season high is 19 by Bud Harrelson in 1971; Harrelson was a good player in his prime, with a good glove and decent plate discipline in a run-starved environment; you could fairly argue that he's the only good shortstop the Mets have ever had, and certainly over any sustained period of time. Reyes has a ways to go to match Harrelson's whole Mets career. But one more full season anything like this year, though, could well make him the best single-season shortstop in club history in short order.
*Vizcaino, in 1995, is the only shorstop to lead the Mets in Win Shares. Of course, when Jose Vizcaino is your best player, you aren't going anywhere.
*We won't mention Alex Rodriguez here.