Jose Bernabe Reyes was born on June 11, 1983 in the Dominican Republic. The energetic, animated, dancing always smiling Jose always had a passion for the game & for living life. His thin six foot frame makes him very quick & very agile. Jose is one one of the best base stealers of our time, the best in Mets history. He will forever be remembered for his head first slides & along with David Wright changing the face of the franchise from the Mike Pizza era to the new millennium.
Reyes was originally spotted at a tryout in the Dominican and given a contact even though the Mets were worried about his small frame. He was sent right to Kingsport as opposed to the Dominican Academy which was the usual case with young Dominican players. He excelled and was quickly promoted through the ranks, proving himself capable of play. He was an All Star throughout his minor league career, twice winning the Mets Minor League Player of the Year nod.
In 2002 he was named All Star in the MLB Futures games and the organization was highly promoting Jose as the short stop of the Future. After the 2002 season Rey Ordonez was traded away, clearing the way for Reyes. But upper management decided to let him mature a bit more in the minors & signed veteran Rey Sanchez.
As the 2003 season fell apart, manager Art Howe figured why not give Reyes his chance when Sanchez went down with an injury. On June 10, 2003 one day before his 20th birthday, Reyes made his MLB debut in Texas against the Rangers going 2-2 with a double. A new Mets era had begun. A week later he hit his first MLB hit and had a five RBI day in Anaheim against the Angels. It was his speed that everyone was talking about.
He began to show his base running abilities right away, stealing 13 bases & only getting caught three times in his first season. He sprained his ankle missing the last month of the season, but he definitely had made his impression. In 69 games he batted .307 with 4 HRs 5 triples 47 runs scored & 32 RBIs, coming in 8th in the Rookie of the Year voting. He became the perfect leadoff hitter, if you were to write a letter to Santa Claus asking for one, he would send you Reyes.
In the 2004 off season the Mets signed Japanese star Kazuo Matsui & decided to move the short stop of the future over to second base! Reyes suffered a hamstring injury & wouldn’t start his season until mid June. He returned and hit safely in fiveof his first seven games, stealing a base during the 2004 Subway Interleague Series. With all the expectations on him, he struggled mightily and was only hitting .215 by the All Star break.
The Mets were in contention but as the season dragged on, injuries & poor play led to them fading far away. Eventually Reyes suffered from back problems going down again, but he was back at short & Matsui was on second base. Reyes season was nothing like what the fans were hoping for, he played in just 53 games batting .255 with two HRs two triples & 12 RBIs, although he did steal 19 bases.
In 2005 the Mets were looking up, the off season signings of Pedro Martinez & Carlos Beltran proved that things were getting better. Reyes began opening day with a three hit day, and hit safely in nine out of his first ten games. He did well in interleague play, having a three hit four RBI day against the cross ton rivals at Shea Stadium. He would drive in nine runs against them in the two subway Series overall that year.
Reyes was tearing up the league with his speed as well, he went on to lead the majors in triples (17) stolen bases (60) & at bats (696) setting a Mets single season record. Jose led the team in hits (190) runs scored (99) & while staying healthy, games played (161). His biggest problem was walks, or lack of, he only had 27 walks in 696 at bats, averaging a .300 on base percentage. Defensively he led all short stops in games played, was fourth in assists & put outs posting a .974 fielding %, while making 18 errors (most in the NL).
Reyes began the 2006 season with a bang, like the rest of the team. He had four multiple hit games in the first eight games & was batting .333 by mid April. After a five hit game against the Braves he tailed off a bit in May. In June he was on fire winning two straight NL Player of the week awards, the first Met to do that since Jesse Orosco in 1983. Reyes bashed out 30 hits in that period batting well over .500 raising his season average almost 50 points & even hit for the cycle on June 21st (the 9th Met to do so).
In between innings at Shea, Professor Reyes appeared on the scoreboard teaching fans how to speak Spanish. He became one the most popular Mets players, with his enthusiasm, energy & elaborate handshakes. The chants of “Jose Jose Jose Jose”would begin every time he came to bat or stole base. As the Mets were rolling over the National League Reyes smiling face was one of the symbols of the organization.
All was great; as he was selected to his first All Star Game, but did not play due to a slight injury. Over the summer he also signed a four year contract extension & had a three HR day in Philadelphia that August. IN September as the Mets prepared for the post season, Reyes hit his first career inside the park HR. It came at Shea against the Dodgers.
He was officially timed as the fastest man in baseball around the bases as well, making it in 14.8 seconds. He finished the year once again leading the league in steals (64) & triples (17). He had career highs in HRs (19) RBIs (81) batting average (.300) while doubling his walks totals & increasing his on base pecentage.
His defense improved on the field as well, and he came in 7th in the MVP voting winning a Silver Slugger Award.
Post Season: In his first postseason Series he struggled in the NLDS only batting .167 (2-12) but he did score the winning run in Game #1 scoring two runs overall. He also drove in the go ahead run in Game #2 & stole a base as the Mets swept the Dodgers.
In the NLCS he was better going 9 for 32 (.281). He set the tone in Game #6 by leading off the Mets first inning with a HR, exciting the Mets fans to a high energy level they would keep throughout the whole game.
In 2007 he started out April by hitting .356 but then struggled a bit and was benched for not hustling enough by manager Willie Randolph. He turned it around & He was selected to another All Star team, where he got three hits & scored a run. In August he became the first New York player in history to steal 50 or more bases in three straight seasons. By the end of the month he had a game where he stole three bases, passing Roger Cedeno & setting a Mets single season mark. He also set Met career record in lead off HRs & having four straight games where he stole a base.
The Mets blew a big lead at the end of the season losing out on a playoff berth. Reyes slump was big part of their demise. He only hit .205 down the stretch, fans & the media expected more & got on him. He was criticized for his theatrics and loose style of play. He finished off the year with his third straight year of over 190 hits (191) career highs in doubles (36) & walks (77) he tailed of in batting average (.280) HRs (12) & RBIs (57).
In 2008 he publicly spoke out saying he was going to cut back on the dancing & fancy hand shakes to focus more on baseball play. He struggled & his team mates coaxed him to go back to do what he always did & be himself. That season he broke the Mets All time record in triples & in stolen bases, passing Mookie Wilson in both categories. He also became only the second Met in history to break the 200 hit mark, a major feat.
He finished the year leading the league in hits (204) triples (19- setting another Mets mark) at bats (688) & caught stealing (15). He was second in stolen base (56) batting .296 with 16 HRs 68 RBIs & a career high 37 doubles. The Mets missed the post season again losing out on the last day of the season in their last game played at Shea Stadium.
In the next to last game of the season, the Mets crushed the Marlins 13-0 behind John Maines near no hitter. Jose got into a bench clearing brawl with some Marlins clown catcher named Oliva or something during a Florida pitching change with Jose on third. Reyes & he were bantering back & forth when the catcher charged third base. Even 63 year old Sandy Alomar got into the mix protecting Reyes as the benches cleared & the fans chanted “Jose Jose Jose” louder than ever.
In 2009 Jose went down with a hamstring injury in May, he went down again trying to rehab and was finished for the year. He hit .279 with 11 steals in 36 games played.
In Spring Training of 2010 he was diagnosed with an over active thyroid & the team chose to rest him. He missed the first month of the season only to return and struggle mightily into June. He even found himself in the number three spot in the batting order a place he wasn’t all to comfortable with until Carlos Beltran returned to the lineup. He finished up the year at .282 with 29 doubles 10 triples 30 stolen bases 11 HRs 54 RBIs & 83 runs scored.
In 2011 the rumors swirled about Reyes being traded away in the final year of his contract. First new Mets GM Sandy Alderson said Reyes wasn’t his type of player. Then owner Fred Wilpon made some stupid comments about his top players, David Wright, Carlos Beltran & Reyes. He said of Reyes that he wants the type of money Carl Crawford got with Boston but he won’t get it.
Through the controversies Reyes went out & was the Mets top player going into June. He began the second week of the month leading the league in hitting, batting .337 with a .386 on base %.
Over the first two months he was first in the NL in hits, triples, & multiple hit games. He was second in stolen bases & was in the top ten in extra base hits, doubles, runs scored, times on base & extra base hits. He began the year with a thirteen game hitting streak in early April & eleven multiple hit games.
He also scored runs in sixteen games in April & stole at least one base in seven games. In May he had 15 multiple hit games, raising his average to .335 with a .382 on base % at the end of the month. In the final eight games of May (before leaving the team for a death in the family) Reyes had seven multiple hit games, with 17 hits overall & ten runs scored. He returned to continue a 12 game hit streak. He missed two weeks in July & then three weeks of action in August. He returned to another 12 game hit streak in early September.
Reyes was in the running for the batting title on the last day day of the season, he got a hit in his first at bat and then walked off the field, taking himself out of the game. The move did not sit well with the media or fans who came to see him that day. Reyes became the first Met in history to win a batting title batting .337 with 181 hits, 31 doubles 7 HRs 44 RBIs a career high .384 on base % & a league leading 16 triples.
In December 2011 he signed a six year deal with the Florida Marlins.
He wass one of the most exciting players the Mets have ever had & one day will be in the team’s Hall of Fame.
Reyes is the Mets All Time Leader in stolen bases (370) runs scored (735) & triples (99). He has 1300 hits (second on the Mets All Time list) with 81 HRs 222 doubles (third on Mets All Time List) 333 walks 423 RBIs 911th on All Time Mets list) & a .341 on base % in 1050 games played (10th on the Mets All Time list).