So Jose Reyes got his 100M dollars plus, and the late reports that the Tigers could be soaring above in the sky like a buzzard looking for roadkill, are just that. Meaningless reports. If you sense some resignation or sadness in my tone, you would be wrong. Probably in part because it’s difficult to read tone in an internet post, but mainly because it is just not there. It’s not that Jose Reyes is roadkill. He isn’t. He is a heck of a baseball player. It’s just that I’ve been fooled by these courtships before, and while there is some substance behind his flash, Jose Reyes has always seemed like the prom queen just outside of the Tigers reach.
I’m sure the Tigers were enticed with Reyes, and after the 2011 season, how could they not be? Reyes had his best offensive season of his career. When he is healthy, Reyes is easily one of the most dynamic forces in the game. Three times in his career, including 2011, Reyes has posted a WAR of at least 6 according to Fangraphs. In a fourth year, he posted a WAR of 5.8.
But just like any prom queen, things aren’t as perfect as the package would suggest when you get to know Reyes. There are some definite warts here. The glaring thing is his health. Reyes has failed to stay healthy for a full season the past three years. In fact, 133 games is the most he has played since 2008. That is quite a few of course, and the Marlins might do well to just limit him to that amount, but dropping that kind of coin on Reyes means the Marlins are going to want to show him off.
A big part of the injury concern is going to come from Reyes’ style of play. He throws his somewhat smallish frame around on the field, and it takes quite a beating. A big part of this guys game is the all out effort, diving around on defense, and diving into bags legging out doubles, triples, and stolen bases. At the front end of the contract, it might not be so bad, but like a prom queen shoving bon-bons down her throat, eventually it can catch up with a person. The wear and tear on Reyes and his body could easily turn this deal into a nightmare, or at least a scary dream.
Defensively, Reyes has some issues as well. While he has some sizzle and can make the fantastic play, Reyes according to UZR metrics the past 3 seasons has been a below average shortstop. That may be nitpicking a well above average player, but hey, I am a Tigers fan, and when my team might of asked for a dance, and got spurned for a fish, I got to find some fault here with Reyes.
While Reyes would’ve been a good addition to the Tigers, it’s not like they have chopped liver out there playing SS right now. Jhonny Peralta had himself a 2011 that resulted in a WAR of over 5 himself. Now, if all things are even, I take Jose Reyes over Jhonny Peralta any day of the week, despite Jhonny nailing Miguel Cabrera in the chest with every throw. Peralta just doesn’t have the insane athleticism that Reyes does, nor the consistency of success up to this point in his career. However, what Peralta does have is value.
Peralta is set to make 5.5M dollars in 2012. If the Tigers can get a 3 WAR performance out of Jhonny with a misplaced “H” in 2012, it’s a bargain. Peralta’s performance is going to be one of the most important things to the Tigers success in 2012. Peralta needs to perform at a level near what he did in 2011, and not revert to what his career thus far says he is…..a guy that puts up good numbers every three years. In 2005, 2008, and 2011, Peralta has been a heck of an offensive player, the other years, not so much. We are talking 100 point plus OPS drop-offs.
Peralta doesn’t need to be Jose Reyes in 2012. He just needs to find that happy medium between a 5.2 WAR season, and a 1.0 WAR season, and he will still have value.
For right now, I am just going to assume that Peralta is happy in Detroit, happy playing shortstop, and happy to give the Tigers another 5+ WAR season, so I won’t ever have to think about the Tigers not getting the girl.