MIAMI, FL - JUNE 27: Jose Reyes #7 of the Miami Marlins hits during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Marlins Park on June 27, 2012 in Miami, Florida. The Marlins defeated the Cardinals 5-3. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
A lot of Miami Marlins players are struggling right now. There is no question that the team as a whole has suffered through a terrible month. And while we can point to a good number of players who have disappointed, one player upon whom the Marlins have counted all month is Jose Reyes. Reyes is, of course, the most happy-go-lucky guy on this team. He is always smiling, even when rookie outfielders are colliding into his shins on catches.
Did you see that? When he held up the ball, you could see him smiling post-collision. Of course, that could have also been him wincing in pain, but I like to think he was smiling. He certainly was smiling just a minute or two afterwards.
And he should be smiling, as should Marlins fans, because as we inch forward in 2012, we are slowly seeing the pieces of a Jose Reyes return to prominence. It started last month and it has only continued into June.Power Present
One thing Reyes was lacking in his first two months of the season was his power stroke. Prior to June, he had yet to hit a home run and had only 12 extra-base hits to his name. But this month, those power numbers have turned around.
The power for Reyes has returned in the month of June, as he posted his best ISO and XB/H in any month this season. This included seeing two home runs leave Marlins Park, which is always a positive sign; it shows that Reyes can indeed hit it out and with significant clearing distance. Keep in mind that, in Reyes's 2011 season, he had only cleared three home runs by the end of June, so this is not surprising or out of the ordinary to see for Reyes.
Approach the Same
We talked a little about Reyes's patient approach before, and that approach has not changed much in this successful June.
Reyes has been the same, consistent player throughout the entire season. He was more selective in May, but he was simply taking what the pitchers gave him presumably. His contact rats have been consistent through most of the year, meaning that he was putting about as many balls in play throughout the season, with each month hovering around 80 percent of his PA ending in a ball in play.
The only difference? Reyes hit only .243 on balls in play in April, which was much lower than he had ever hit in his career. In May and June, that mark has come up to .311, which is unsurprisingly very similar to his career .313 average. What we have here is a simple case of regression to the mean, and as a result of that regression, Reyes has remained a strong bit player in an otherwise terrible theater in June.
Too Many Grounders
It should be noted that Reyes has increased the number of ground balls he has hit this season, up to 48 percent versus a career 44 percent rate. The last time he hit this many grounders was in his first full season in 2005, when he hit .273/.300/.386. It is not ironic that Reyes's ISO that year of .114 is very similar to the .111 mark he has this season as well.
All of this serves to point out that, for Reyes to continue his march back to a respectable batting line for a player signed to a $100 million-plus contract, he needs to start lining and hitting more fly balls. He may never regain the home run stroke he had earlier in his career, but he does need to get back his doubles and triples much like he has in the month of June. Reyes's ground ball rate in June has dropped to 45.2 percent; that mark is more in line with his career and is accompanied by power numbers that are also much improved.
Marlins fans were correct to be unconcerned about Reyes's progress. He has shown that April was just a fluke and, unlike the Hanley Ramirez who has slumped much like he did in April after a hot May, Reyes has maintained the most consistency on the team. His approach has been rock solid and the results have finally begun pouring in. Combine that with his positive approach and influence on a daily basis and you cannot help but be a fan and be happy have him on the team.