Measuring Reyes’s loss in the box score

From Andrew Keh at The New York Times on December 5, 2011, with quotes from SABR member Neil Paine and Rob Neyer:

Since his major league debut in 2003, Jose Reyes has become one of the more recognizable stars in baseball. And for Mets fans, viewing the effervescent Reyes in full motion — knees pumping, dreadlocks swaying — became something of a quintessential experience.

Such traits had complicated the Mets’ pursuit to re-sign Reyes, the star shortstop who agreed in principle Sunday night to a six-year, $106 million deal with the Miami Marlins, and have certainly made his departure to another organization particularly unpalatable for Mets fans. Losing a star, as everyone knows, has consequences beyond the scorebook.

Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to consider what the Mets actually will be losing on the field now that Reyes appears to be leaving. The consequences, it turns out, are nuanced and unexpectedly varied.

The most indisputable fact of Reyes’s career to this point appears to be his immense worth at the top of a batting order. Neil Paine, an analyst at, said in an e-mail message that Reyes has “arguably been the National League’s best leadoff hitter” over his career.

Since 2006, the year Reyes truly seemed to break out as a star, and excluding 2009, when he played only 36 games, the Mets have received superb production from the leadoff spot, the position Reyes filled in the order for the vast majority of games during that span

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Originally published: December 5, 2011. Last Updated: December 5, 2011.