The 2017 MLB regular season hasn’t exactly started how the New York Mets envisioned it. Unless they anticipated an 11-14 record and multiple injuries to impact players, that is.
One of the biggest disappointments throughout the first few weeks was Jose Reyes‘ performance at the plate. An integral part of the Mets’ offense at the top of their lineup, manager Terry Collins was forced to move his third baseman to the bottom third because he was in such a deep slump.
How bad was it, exactly? On April 23rd, he sported an uninspiring .104/.189/.134 triple slash with a .158 wOBA and a wRC+ of -3 (and no, that’s not a typo).
While he hasn’t been installed back into the top of the lineup just yet — Michael Conforto is doing quite fine at the moment — Reyes has caught fire after a couple days away from the field. Since April 26th, the veteran is slashing .391/.462/.913 with a .559 wOBA and a wRC+ of 252.
What’s been the cause of him busting out of his slump? The evidence is pretty clear in his batted-ball profile.
Quality of Contact
It should be no surprise that a major key to being a successful hitter is making solid contact on a consistent basis. Some players are able to be productive without a hard-hit rate as high as others because of a unique skill set, though.
Reyes’ speed has allowed him to find success despite a career 24.4% hard-hit rate. While he can’t run the bases like he used to, he has enough speed for it to remain an asset to his game.
But one of the great things about his return to the Mets last year was his hard-hit rate, which settled in at a career-high 29.0%. His overall numbers to this point in 2017 are skewed because of how he started, but his hot streak looks a lot more like how he produced last season.
|Through April 23rd||23.5%||62.8%||13.7%|
|Since April 26th||40.9%||27.3%||31.8%|
Making solid contact on a more consistent basis was something that had to happen for Reyes — there’s no way he could be productive with a hard-hit rate below 20.0%.
While this is important, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
Types of Batted Balls
Reyes has shown decent power throughout his career, but he’s most effective when hitting line drives and keeping the ball on the ground.
He did a decent job of this last season, but struggled to repeat those results until something clicked last week.
|Through April 23rd||12.0%||40.0%||48.0%|
|Since April 26th||23.8%||33.3%||42.9%|
And coincidentally enough — or not at all, really — Reyes’ ISO jumped from a paltry .030 during his slump to .522 during this hot streak.
Most importantly, this has all been made possible by how he’s attacking pitches.
Using the Whole Field
For some players, generating fly balls and pulling them more often is a good thing, but not for Reyes. As displayed throughout his career, he needs to use the whole field. During his deep slump, he was visibly jumping out and getting in front of pitches a lot, which Keith Hernandez pointed out multiple times during SNY broadcasts.
The proof is also in the statistics, and it shouldn’t be surprising that a more balanced view with regard to his batted balls has appeared with his resurgence, which has clearly become a recurring theme here.
|Through April 23rd||47.1%||19.6%||33.3%|
|Since April 26th||36.4%||31.8%||31.8%|
That looks much better, don’t you think?
Reyes is entering action on Tuesday with just a .178/.260/.333 triple slash and a wRC+ of 63 through his first 100 plate appearances, but things are finally looking up for him.
For the Mets to find success this season, a lot of things need to go their way. So far, that hasn’t been the case — especially with the injury bug hitting them again early on. However, Reyes is a key cog in this lineup and New York needs him to consistently get on base and use his speed to set up RBI opportunities for those behind him.
Now that he appears to be back on track, it’s only a matter of time before Collins returns him to the leadoff spot, which is good because it’ll allow Conforto — who’s probably their best hitter not on the DL at the moment — to do some damage in the meat of the order.
Until Yoenis Cespedes can get back into the lineup on a regular basis, New York must squeeze every last pit of production out of the offense they have. If Reyes’ hot streak means he’s back to his normal self, that will definitely help.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball, contributes to The Sports Daily and is also an editor for numberFire. In the past, he has also written for FanDuel Insider and Bleacher Report. He’s a lover of all baseball, especially the Mets.