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Key Stats: Jose Reyes attempted to steal 99 bases in 2007, but only 71 last year. Generally such a lopsided difference is explained by missed time, but Reyes only had four more plate appearances in 2007. For every 100 times Reyes reached first in 2007 he was a attempting a steal 48 times. For every 100 times Reyes reached first in 2008 he was attempting a steal 36 times.

This article does an excellent job of explaining what happened when Reyes went on a stealing binge. Props to the Mets Geek for writing about this in Spring Training of last year before knowing the stolen base attempts were coming down in 2008.

Skeptics Say: Back in 2004 there were worries that Reyes was going to be a fragile player, but he hasn’t missed double digit games in a season since then. Base stealers are more susceptible to injuries than other players. The initial acceleration to get a jump puts extreme pressure on the hamstrings, quads and calves, and the slide into the base often involves a violent collision with the ankle or wrist. It’s a necessary risk that you take when you select a base stealer, but it’s tougher to swallow when it’s an early first round pick.

Peer Comparison: Don’t forget that Reyes is more than just a base stealer. Reyes led the NL in at-bats, triples, plate appearances, and hits. He placed in the top 5 in several categories including runs scored and total bases (who knew?).

Willy Taveras didn’t do anything close to what Reyes did in other stats. He was a one category player – the hitting equivalent to Joe Borowski. The two players are so far apart.

HR differential: 15
RBI differential: 42
R differential: 49
AVG differential: .046

And all of that while Taveras was playing his home games at Coors Field. To justify passing on Reyes in the early rounds is fine, but to do so simply because you can “get his production from Taveras in the 20th round” is absurd. To borrow a phrase from FantasyBaseball365, Taveras is a YPNM (your problem not mine).

Lineup Outlook: Reyes led not only the NL in at-bats and plate appearances, but all of MLB. Usually that’s a good indication that the lineup is terrific. Carlos Delgado will be the key to Reyes succeeding this season. After having an MVP-type season in 2008, Delgado is being penciled into the clean up spot at the start of the season with Carlos Beltran likely hitting fifth.

What They’re Saying: #2 Shortstop and #5 Overall; CBS Sportsline: #2 Shortstop and #2 Overall; Mock Draft Central ADP: #3 Overall; Fox Sports: #2 Shortstop; ESPN: #2 Shortstop; Yahoo: #2 Shortstop and #3 Overall

Projection: Baseball Reference is the greatest site ever. Looking at the repeat steals leaders such as Lou Brock, Ricky Henderson, and Kenny Lofton it shows that perhaps the skeptics are off on the general health of base stealers. Reyes won’t get to the 2007 stolen base level, but he’ll reclaim the world lead in thefts from Taveras in 2009.
114R 19 HR 65 RBI 61 SB .292 AVG .837 OPS

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