Jun 10, 2016

All Time Mets Stolen Base Leader: Jose Reyes (Part One: 2003-2006)

Jose Bernabe Reyes was born on June 11, 1983 in the Dominican Republic. Reyes is animated & full of excitement on the baseball field. He is always either dancing or smiling with a passion for the game & for living life.

The six foot, switch hitter is very quick & very agile ball player. He is one of the best base stealers of his era & the best in Mets history. Reyes speed & agility made him the perfect lead off hitter. He was also one of the best triples hitters of the day. He will forever be remembered for his head first slides in all bases. Reyes along with David Wright, changed the face of the franchise from the Mike Pizza post season era to the new millennium.

Reyes was originally spotted at a tryout in the Dominican the Mets were afraid of his small, thin frame, but gave him a contact anyway. Instead of going to the Dominican Academy which was the usual case with young Dominican players, Reyes went right to Kingsport, in the rookie league. BY 2002 he went from the St. Lucie Mets to AA Binghamton batting .288 overall. 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.

In 2003 he played 42 games at AAA Norfolk, batting .269 with 26 steals. Reyes won the Mets Minor League Player of the Year Award twice. After the 2002 season, the Mets had traded short stop Rey Ordonez away, clearing the way for Reyes. The organization chose to let him wait a bit longer & signed veteran infielder Rey Sanchez. After a highly controversial locker room hair cut during a game, his days were numbered. Also the Mets 2003 season fell apart & manager Art Howe figured why not give Reyes his chance.

On June 10, 2003 one day before his 20th birthday, Jose Reyes made his MLB debut in Arlington Texas, in during an inter league game against the Rangers. Reyes batted ninth & played short stop, getting a hit in first at bat, coming against john Thompson. He then scored first career run on Roger Cedeno’s double. He went 2-2 that day with a double, as a new Mets era had begun. A week later he hit his first HR, having a five RBI day in Anaheim against the Angels.

Reyes stole 13 bases in 16 attempts but then sprained his ankle, missing the last month of the season, Reyes had everyone excited about his career, in 69 games he batted .307 with 4 HRs 5 triples 47 runs scored & 32 RBIs. He came in eighth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

In the 2004 off season the Mets signed Japanese infield star Kazuo Matsui & decided to move their short stop of the future; Reyes, over to second base. It ended up that Reyes suffered a hamstring injury & wouldn’t start his season until mid June. He returned and hit safely in five of his first seven games, hitting two HRs in his first ten games. He stole his first base of the year, during the 2004 Interleague Subway Series. With all the expectations on him, he struggled mightily and was only hitting .215 by the All Star break.

The Mets were still in contention but as the season dragged on, injuries & poor play had them fade far away. Eventually Reyes suffered from back problems &missed over a month of action from mid August to late September. By the end of the year, he was back at short stop & Matsui was playing at second base. Matsui hit better than Reyes did at .272 while Reyes finished up at .255 for the 71-91 fourth place Mets.

Reyes first full season was nothing like what the fans were hoping for, he played in just 53 games with two HRs, two triples, 12 RBIs & a .271 on base %. Although on the bases he did steal 19 bases in 21 attempts. At second base he played 43 games (.980 fielding %) & ten games at short (.957%).

In 2005 the Mets were looking up, during the off season they had some big signings in Pedro Martinez & Carlos Beltran. Reyes began the season with two doubles & two runs scored in the Opening day loss in Cincinnati. He would hit safely in nine out of his first ten games, driving in runs in four of them.

On April 13th, he drove in the walk off run with a single off the Houston Astros Dan Wheeler, breaking an 11th inning scoreless tie. The next day he tied up the game in the 7th inning with a base hit off former Met John Franco. On April 19th, he hit two HR at Citizen’s Bank Park in a 16-4 Mets win over the Phillies. On May second he had a four hit day at Shea, stealing two bases in another Mets win over Philadelphia.

He did well in interleague play, on May 21st; he had a three hit four RBI day, against the cross town rivals in a 7-1 Mets win at Shea Stadium. In the 2nd inning he singled off Randy Johnson driving in Kaz Matsui. In the 7th he sacrificed also scoring Matsui & in the 8th inning he tripled off Buddy Groom driving in David Wright as well as Eric Valent.

In June as the series moved across town, Reyes drove in five runs, a run in each of the three games. He would drive in nine runs against them in the two subway Series overall that year. In July he went on a twenty game hit streak, having ten multi hit games with two four hit games as well, in that stretch. On August 24th, he drove in runs for the third straight game in Arizona, having a three hit four RBI day.

In September he hit safely in 19 of 22 games, finishing up with his best season to date. 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) & games played (161). His biggest problem was walks, or lack of. He only had 27 walks in 696 at bats, while posting a .300 on base percentage.

Defensively he led all short stops in games played (161) was fourth in assists (428) & put outs (236). He turned a career high 105 double plays, posting a .974 fielding %, while making 18 errors (most in the NL).

In the off season the Mets scooped up slugger Carlos Delgado, catcher Paul LoDuca & reliever Billy Wagner. There was the most excitement around the club than there had been since the pennant of 2000. At spring training, the club brought in Rickey Henderson to help Reyes with his base running skills. 

Reyes began the 2006 season with a bang, just like the rest of the team. He had four multiple hit games in the first eight games & was batting .333 by mid April. On May 5th he had a five hit game, with a pair of doubles in a -5 win against the Atlanta Braves. From there he tailed off a bit through the rest of May.

In June he was on fire winning two straight NL Player of the week awards, the first for the week of June 12th, the second for the week of June 19th. He became the first Met to accomplish that feat, since Jesse Orosco did it in 1983. Reyes bashed out 30 hits in that period batting well over .500 raising his season average almost 50 points.

On June 21st he even hit for the cycle, becoming the ninth player in Mets history to do so. That season, in between innings at Shea Stadium, Professor Reyes appeared on the large scoreboard teaching fans how to speak Spanish. He became one the most popular Mets players, with his enthusiasm, energy & elaborate handshakes. At Shea Stadium, the chants of “Jose Jose Jose Jose” sung to the tune of “ole ole ole ole”, would be heard every time he came to bat or stole a base. As the Mets were rolling over the National League teams, Reyes smiling face was one of the symbols of the organization.

All was going great in Mets land; Reyes 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 as the Mets locked him in through 2011.

In August he started the month hitting safely in 20 of 23 games, while driving in 15 runs in the first two weeks of the month. On August 6th, he hit a grand slam HR in the Mets seven run 4th inning, in an 8-1 romp over the Phillies. Reyes HR came off Scott Mathieson. On August 15th, Reyes had a three HR day in Philadelphia driving in all four of the Mets runs in an 11-4 loss. Inthe month he drove in 26 runs & also hit four triples.

In September as the Mets prepared for the post season, Reyes hit his first career inside the park HR. It came at Shea Stadium, in a 7-0 Tom Glavine win against the Dodgers. He had also hit a HR against the Braves the day before that went over the fence. That month 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 from the previous year to 53 & increasing his on base percentage to .354%. At short he posted a .971% making 17 errors in 583 chances. He came in 7th in the MVP voting, while also winning a Silver Slugger Award.

Post Season: In his first postseason Series, he struggled in the NLDS Mets sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He batted .167 (2-12) with three hits, three walks, two RBIs & a stolen base. In Game #2 his first RBI came on a ground out, as Endy Chavez crossed the plate. In the 6th inning, his single scored Jose Valentin putting the Mets up 4-0, in the 4-1 victory. 

In Game #1 he broke a 4-4 7th inning tie, when after a leadoff single & stolen base, he came home on Carlos Delgado's base hit.

He also brought in the first run in Game #2 on a ground out to short stop, when Endy Chavez came home. Later in the 6th inning, his base hit scored Jose Valentin with the Mets fourth run in the 4-1 win.

In the NLCS loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, he went 9 for 32 (.281). In Game #1 he went hitless in four at bats, as the Mets went on to a 2-0 win behind Tom Glavine. He had a three hit game in the 9-6 Game #2 loss at Shea Stadium. In the bottom of the 2nd inning, he singled off Chris Carpenter putting the Mets up 4-2, although they would not hold on to the lead.

He tripled off Jeff Suppan in the Game #3 loss in St. Louis. In Game #4 he had a lead off sixth inning base hit & then scored on Carlos Delgado's ground rule double, in the Mets 12-5 win.


The Mets lost Game #5 at St. Louis, falling down three games to two in the series, Reyes had one hit in the game. Reyes set the tone in Game #6 by leading off the Mets first inning with a HR, off Cardinal ace; Chris Carpenter. The HR excited the Mets fans to a high energy level they would keep throughout the whole game. In the 7th inning, he singled off Braden Looper & then scored on Paul LoDuca's RBI single. In that Game he got three hits, scoring two runs in the Mets 4-2 win, forcing a Game #7.

In the final disappointing Game #7; he went a hitless 0-5, as the Mets lost to the Cards 3-1.

In the off season he joined team mates, David Wright & John Maine going to Japan to play in the MLB Japan All Star series. In the 10th inning of Game #5 he hit a walk off series winning HR.

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