Jose Reyes hit an infield single in last night's 4-2 victory over the New York Mets, and that extended his current hitting streak to 25 games. Reyes's hitting streak has been one of the bright spots of the Miami Marlins as of late, and the streak has not been a dinky one-hit-per-game one. No, Reyes has had some legitimately awesome performances as of late, as he has hit .362/.406/.604 during the hit streak, including belting eight doubles, two triples, and four home runs. Needless to say, the Jose Reyes the Marlins thought they were getting before the season has been here since May, but right now he is on a tear in order to get his batting line back up to expected levels after a poor April.
The hit streak is what has Marlins fans particularly interested in Reyes's accomplishments. Now, I'm a little more of the opinion that Tom Tango shares (you can see it highlighted in this post title), but I guess it is still a little fun to talk about lengthy streaks. Last night, Reyes tied the third longest hit streak in Marlins history, tying Kevin Millar's streak from 2002 and only one behind Emilio Bonifacio's streak from last season. Of course, the team leader is Luis Castillo, who had a hit in 35 straight games in 2002. So the natural question is this: can Jose Reyes challenge Luis Castillo's hit streak?
Well, let's use a little bit of math to find out.Projection
As of yesterday night's game, ZiPS's rest-of-season projection for Reyes, which is supposed to be a true-talent estimate of his skill, projects a .295 hitter. That is pretty good, obviously, and it certainly gives Reyes a good chance to continue his streak as compared to other hitters of the past (such as the above-linked Dan Uggla) who do not usually boast high batting averages. But the batting average includes only AB, so we should convert the average to a rate of hits per PA. Reyes is projected to get .269 hits per PA according to ZiPS.
From then, it is pretty simple. Let us assume Reyes will get around 4.5 PA per game. What are the odds he has one hit in those 4.5 PA of a game? Well, it is the same as one minus the odds that he does not get a hit in any PA. When you do all of those calculations, you expect that the odds of Reyes getting at least one hit in a given game is 75.6 percent.
Time To Streak
So, what are the odds he matches and beats the various Marlins hit streaks? Well, obviously with tonight's game, he has a 75.6 percent chance to match Emilio Bonifacio's streak and surpass Kevin Millar's streak. What are his odds of beating Bonifacio? Well, it is just his odds of getting one hit tonight and tomorrow, or 0.756 squared. That gives him a 57.2 percent chance to beat Bonifacio. You can see that, while one game seems fairly easy, the odds certainly drop quickly on that second game.
What does that mean for Reyes's attempt at Castillo's 35-game hit streak? To match it, he would have to get hits in 10 more games straight. As a result, the odds of that happening are 0.756 to the tenth power, or just 6.1 percent. His odds to surpass the streak are 4.6 percent. That means that Reyes is only expected to match the streak once out of every 16.4 attempts, and he only beats the streak once out of every 21.7 attempts.
At this stage and with his skills, it does not seem completely out of reach. Let's put that 6.1 percent mark into some context. In Reyes's current hitting streak, he has walked six times in 109 PA. That means that Reyes is expected to beat Castillo's streak more often than he has walked during the streak. In fact, Reyes is expected to beat the streak about as often as players like Daniel Murphy or Yunel Escobar have walked in their PA this season.
All of this is to say that, as odd and quirky as streaks can be, this one is actually fairly attainable. If you were looking for a perfect candidate to break a hitting streak by the great Luis Castillo, you might as well look at the guy who has been doing a Castillo impersonation for much of the season. Jose Reyes does not strike out often (8.7 percent this season, the third lowest strikeout rate among qualified major leaguers) and does decently on balls in play (.305 BABIP this year, .313 career), so he is perfectly tuned to put balls in play and let his speed and bat skills get him base hits.
If there is anyone who can break Castillo's Marlins record, it is Jose Reyes. And at 6.1 percent chances, don't be too surprised if it does happen. Because if Adam Jones or Adrian Beltre can draw a walk, Reyes has a chance than that to go streaking with his hits.