What’s that noise?  Ahhh, that’s my daughter.  The human alarm clock.  You can set your watch to her.  8:45 AM on the dot, “DAAAAAA DEEEEEEE!!!!”.  So like every other Saturday morning, I fumble for my glasses and make my way to the crib with nothing but a smile on my face.  She grabs her blanky and I take her into the living room to watch some cartoons as I wake up.

I make her some breakfast (pancakes are about all I know how to make) as she sits in her high-chair.  I can see she is anxiously awaiting  her pancakes like her daddy awaits a Jose Reyes triple.   She smells them and her eyes grow as big as baseballs.  Kinda like when Jose goes down and laces a scorching line drive into the gap.

So when my daughter was all done eating and was screaming to watch the Bubble Guppies, I took to twitter and thanks to http://twitter.com/#!/dailystache“>@DailyStache, my day has been ruined already.  Yesterday on Forbes.com there was an article written by Tom Van Riper (Click Here) that was so blatantly ignorant, that I wanted to throw my laptop on the ground.  This guy is either a HUGE Yankees fan or just a Mets hater.

Let me start tearing this article apart…

He starts the article by referring to this play against the Nats on April 27th, when in the 8th inning, Jose rips a ball into the left-centerfield gap and smells a triple.  As he dives head first into 3rd base, Jerry Hairston Jr. applies a late tag that he keeps on Joe’s hand.  But with a little gamesmanship, Hairston Jr. somehow convinces the umpire to call Jose out.  You could see him saying that Jose’s hand came off the bag.  The call was as absurdly bad as the Kent Hrbek/Ron Gantplay in the 1991 World Series when Hrbek just rips Gant off the base and the ump calls him out.

“Thanks to an overly aggressive and unnecessary headfirst slide, Reyes’ head and upper body went skidding along the ground past the bag, as his right hand maintained contact. Then instead of immediately asking for time, Reyes flashed a lot of movement with his arm and hand, reducing contact with the base to just the fingers at one point, as he tried to readjust himself and move his foot to the base.”  “Reyes chiefly had himself to blame. That while the call was wrong, all the movement and readjustments on Reyes’ part after the poor slide proved deceptive to the umpire, making the call tougher than it should have been. That a proper, fundamental feet first slide would have left no doubt about the play.”

Excuse me, but I’m pretty sure that after watching that play for the 500th time, Jose NEEDED to dive headfirst into the bag, towards the inside of the bag, to avoid the tag.  Secondly, what extra hand and arm movements?  HE ASKED FOR TIME!   This kind of nit-picking about Jose’s game is getting beyond annoying.  It’s to the point where I’m actually getting angry.

One other part of this article that is driving me crazy is this…”Top leadoff men eventually learn the major league strike zone andwalk 100 times a a year, yielding higher on-base percentages than Reyes’ .336 career mark”.  Let’s find out who those “Top Leadoff Men” are.

It’s probably safe to say that the best leadoff hitter of my generation (post 1998) has been Ichiro.  The guy set the all-time record with 262 hits back in 2004, and has never had a season in MLB when he didn’t record over 200 hits.  Of course most people say Rickey Henderson was the greatest leadoff hitter of all time, since he has scored more runs that anyone ever has.  Then there are guys like Jimmy Rollins, Rafael Furcal, Grady Sizemore (when he was healthy), maybe Johnny Damon a few years ago and Juan Pierre.  Let’s look at the stat lines of some these “Top Leadoff Hitters” since the mid-1990’s.  For the sake of arguement, I’m including Jeter in here.  He’s led off and on for like 50 yrs.

I only included the years when a player was healthy.  It was only fair.

Avg Season
Player R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB BA OBP OPS Years
Henderson 101 134 23 3 13 49 64 96 0.282 0.406 0.832 1980-2000
Biggio 107 168 38 3 16 65 25 69 0.289 0.380 0.829 1992-2004
Jeter 112 194 31 4 16 75 22 63 0.314 0.385 0.838 1996-2010
Furcal 101 169 28 7 10 52 30 61 0.283 0.350 0.753 2000, 02-07, 09
Rollins 104 179 39 10 16 68 36 52 0.274 0.329 0.768 2001-2009
Reyes 107 188 31 15 13 64 58 51 0.286 0.337 0.777 2005-2008, 10
Ichiro 105 224 26 7 9 56 38 46 0.330 0.375 0.804 2001-2010
Eckstein 79 154 23 3 4 41 16 40 0.286 0.351 0.713 2001-2007
Pierre 87 178 22 8 1 41 52 37 0.297 0.347 0.715 2001-2010
Reyes Rank T-2 3 T-3 1 T-4 T-4 1 5 T-5 T-7 4

I set Rickey apart from everyone else  to show him in a class of his own and ranked Jose along with the other leadoff hitters.

So as you can see from the stats above from some of the best leadoff hitters of the past 15-20 years, Jose is clearly in the upper eschelon.  Sure, everyone is going to knock the OBP, but from 2005 to 2008 his OBP clearly trended upwards.  .300, .354, .354, .358, .321.  Aside from the .321 OBP in 2010 and his .271 OBP in hs 2ndseason, he’s been pretty adapt at getting on base.   The average OBP by our 8 man sample is .357.  I don’t recall anyone nit-picking Jimmy Rollins’ career .329 OBP, or that Ichiro only averages 46 walks per season…which is 5 LESS than Reyes.

One other stat that I’d like to point out is the walks.  When Mr. Riper dropped the line about leadoff hitters walking 100 times per season, I’d like to know what decade he was talking about?  Of these 8 top leadoff men (outside Rickey, who only had 5 season of 100+ walks), only 1 player had and season with 100 or more walks.  That was Craig Biggio.  ONE SEASON.

If you are going to hate on a player, use the correct facts.  The days when a leadoff hitter walks over 100 times per season are over.  Since 1990, 4 leadoff hitters has lead the league in walks.  Chone Figgins (2009), Henderson (1998), Lenny Dykstra (1993), and Brett Butler (1991).  The players with the gaudy OBP and walk totals are the 3rd and 4th place hitters these days.  Just look at the numbers.  Price Fielder led the NL lat year with 114 walks.  Yes, a 280 lb, swing from your heals, power hitter.

I can understand if Jose rubs you the wrong way with his flamboyance.  I can understand if it appears that he’s “not in the game” at all times.  It drives me nuts sometimes too.  But what he’s done is produce.  What he’s done is create excitement.  What he’s done is make me want to turn on the TV or go to the ballpark to watch the Mets.  Don’t hate to hate.

As profesor Reyes would say:  No odie al jugador, odie el juego.  – Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

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