This week, Fish Stripes continues the paired series of What Went Right and What Went Wrong with the 2012 Miami Marlins. Today, the topic of discussion is Jose Reyes, the Marlins' biggest free agent signing of the offseason. While Giancarlo Stanton had a monster year while he was in the lineup, Jose Reyes had a pretty regular season at the plate for himself, but he showed the capability to stay healthy all season, which was a questionable aspect of his signing before the 2012 campaign.
It was a rough start to the season for Reyes in April, which is part of the reason why his year went more or less unnoticed, even in Miami. Reyes hit an ugly ,220./.293/.341 (.265 wOBA) in the month of April, yet somehow his struggles were not as magnified as the myriad of other failing Marlins in the month of April. For whatever reason, it seemed other fans did not care that Reyes was struggling at the top of what was supposed to be a loaded Miami Marlins lineup, while Marlins fans either were too frustrated with Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, and Logan Morrison to even notice Reyes.
Whatever the reason was, perhaps it was that very reason that kept Reyes's season-long return to prominence such a quiet endeavor. As we detailed multiple times earlier, Reyes recovered from that slow start month by month.
Outside of April, Reyes had only one month in which he hit a worse wOBA than his career .345 mark. In the five months after April, Reyes never had a month with a worse batting average than .283 and his worst wOBA month was still nine percent better than the league average this season. After May, Reyes fully reverted back to his old form, complete with power. Remember, he did not even hit his first home run until early June, and since then he was still able to smack 11 homers and post a .179 ISO.
What makes Reyes's season so interesting is just exactly his final numbers correlated well with his career total. His final line of .287/.347/.433 (.340 wOBA) was actually very close to his career line of .291/.342/.440 (.345 wOBA). In fact, when you compare those lines to their respective league averages, you get almost identical wRC+ figures; in 2012, Reyes had a 113 wRC+, indicating a line 13 percent better than the league average, while in his career, his offensive contribution has been 12 percent better than league average.
The way he ended the season was both consistent month to month, with no great slumps or hot months, but also consistent with our expectation of him before the season. From May onward, Reyes hit .296/.355/.446, which was good for a .351 wOBA. That set of 623 PA since May was worth a 120 wRC+, or a line that was 20 percent better than the league average. Well, take a look at the raw averages of these six projections from before the season:
|Reyes. 2012 Proj||AVG||OBP||SLG||wOBA|
Reyes almost exactly matches these projections when you do not take his terrible April into account. For 623 PA of the 2012 season, Reyes hit exactly as Fish Stripes expected at the beginning of the season, and if there were ever an example of a guy clearly showing that fluke months can really hurt the standing of a year, Reyes proved it by being uncanny in his consistency for five sixths of the 2012 season. Not only did his total season line up nicely with his career numbers, but the recovery from his poor month almost exactly matched his expectations going into 2012. In other words, in the end, Reyes put up one of the most dependable and expected seasons of any Marlin in 2012.
Reyes was also once again active on the bases as the Marlins desired. He stole 40 bases in 2012, reaching that plateau for the first time 2008 as well. While his baserunning has never been the same and likely never will be when compared to his pre-2009 seasons, it seems the Marlins' aggressive approach on the bases suits him well enough to play the speed he has displayed since 2010 to its fullest effectiveness.
Some analysts and talking heads took shots at the Reyes signing prior to the season on the grounds that the Marlins were signing high based on his breakout campaign in 2011. When Reyes struggled at the start of the year and never had an amazing run of success, those same folks took shots at how Reyes had, as expected, not done anything special in 2012. But those folks would be wrong, as Reyes had a more than typical year at the plate that was still extremely valuable to the Marlins. The climb back from the whole he dug himself in April in and of itself should be commended.
But perhaps the biggest shot that pundits took at Reyes was about his health. He had put up two seasons in which he had missed at least 30 games due to injury in addition to regular off-time, including his career year in 2011. The year before that, Reyes had missed the entire season with a leg injury as well, and with all of those problems, he had built up a label of being "injury-prone." But for the Marlins, Reyes was a model of consistency in terms of being on the field as well. Reyes made no pinch-hit or pinch-running appearances and missed all but two starts in the 2012 season, showing that in at least one season, his durability was not a concern.
Reyes started in all of the team's double-header games and only missed a game for regular rest and one to rest a sore thumb. His 716 PA lead all National Leaguers and was the most he had recorded since 2008. It was the most any Marlin has recorded since Juan Pierre went to the plate 719 times in 2005. His PA total this season was the seventh year with at least 700 PA and the fifth-most in a single season in Marlins history. Despite leading the NL in appearances at the plate, Reyes also avoided the ignominy of leading the league in outs as well, as he was third in outs made behind Starlin Castro and Jimmy Rollins and only two ahead of Hunter Pence, three players who all hit worse than Reyes.
Reyes's 2012 season ranked fourth among shortstops in FanGraphs WIns Above Replacement (fWAR) and ninth among them in Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement.(rWAR). The reason for the discrepancy will be explained later, but a number of big names ended behind Reyes in this list, including Derek Jeter, Erick Aybar, and Alexei Ramirez. The fact that there is some dispute as to just how good Reyes's overall season was iwill be discussed later today, but suffice to say that, as a whole, Reyes's first year has to be considered more than just a #minorvictory but more of a successful debut.