I am going to do a number of off-season articles on what I deem are key players for the 2011 NL Only fantasy baseball season. First up is Jose Reyes. Reyes has elite fantasy value when is healthy and everything is going in the right direction. From 2005 through 2008, Reyes was one of the best NL fantasy hitters each year. Check out the stats below:
2005 - 7HR, 58RBI, 99R, 60SB, .273 Avg in 161 games
2006 - 19HR, 81RBI, 122R, 64SB, .300 Avg in 153 games
2007 - 12HR, 57RBI, 119R, 78SB, .280 Avg in 160 games
2008 - 16HR, 68RBI, 113R, 56SB, .297 Avg in 159 games
Reyes was consistent and very durable being an elite player. However, in 2009, Reyes had a leg injury that never healed starting in May of 09 and he only played in 36 games that season. Last year was a bit of an odd year for Reyes as he had some injury issues (missed almost 30 games), at times was ice cold and other times red hot. His final numbers in 2010 were 11HR, 54RBI, 83R, 30SB, .282 Avg in 133 games. Notice the monster drop in speed.
So what can we expect for 2011 for Jose Reyes? Can he regain the form and become an elite player again in 2011? Even though Reyes has eight seasons under his MLB belt, he won't turn 28 until the middle of June, so age wise he should be in the prime of his career. The Mets picked up his option for 2011 and after this season Reyes will be a free agent. With all the crazy big contracts this winter, a huge 2011 season by Reyes could mean a big payday for him next off-season. What that means is most times players in this situation use the off-season before there final year of the contract to get in the best shape of their lives. I am not saying that any funny business goes on although obviously it has in the past with some players but the player realizes a big season could mean so much more money on the table next winter.
All signs seem to point to Reyes having a big season. Keep in mind leg injuries when they happen can be slow healing and very easy to re-injure. Stealing bases puts a lot of wear and tear on the body and wears those parts of the body down. Another thing to consider being here in New York I can tell you the Mets are obviously using the 2011 season as a transition year and trying to shape their team to be a contender for years to come through the farm and acquiring young talent via trades. Right now the Mets are hamstrung with some very big and odious contracts in Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez and K-Rod to name a few. Those four players will cost the Mets about $50 million dollars in 2011 but all four are on the last year of their contracts. If Reyes is having a big season come July and if as expected the Mets are no where near contention even for a wild card spot, the Mets will look at trading Reyes come that time for a package of prospects and young players. I am not sure the Mets will be willing to give Reyes a gigantic contract even if he has a big season in 2011. What that means for you NL only owners is if Reyes is traded to the AL sometime in July that could kill you.
End of the day there is a lot of risk associated with Reyes. My rule of thumb is if you are getting a player who has a lot of risk you must get a big discount come draft day. However, because of Reyes potential to be an elite fantasy player, that usually doesn't happen in most drafts. If the discount is there on draft day and you have the flexibility, go for it. I can understand if you want to roll the dice. Otherwise, I personally would look elsewhere.
Happy Holidays and everyone have a great New Year.
NL King - C.Lizza