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Miami Marlins' Jose Reyes Chasing Batting Average, Steals Benchmarks

Miami Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes is chasing down two benchmarks until the end of the 2012 season. Can he accomplish his goals, including hitting .300? (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
Miami Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes is chasing down two benchmarks until the end of the 2012 season. Can he accomplish his goals, including hitting .300? (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)
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One of the few positives remaining in the Miami Marlins' miserable 2012 season is Jose Reyes and his work day in and day out. While Reyes's season has not come close to reaching his career 2011 campaign, he has turned out to be almost exactly what we expected this season, and in a year where few things have gone as expected, getting what you asked for is a #minorvictory if there ever was one.

But Reyes is not satisfied with how well he is playing now. He has goals to meet, and one of those goals is hitting .300 by the end of the season.

"We still have one more month of baseball left," the Marlins shortstop said. "I have one goal on my mind: to hit .300. Less than that is going to be unacceptable."

At the time of the article, Reyes was hitting .283, and he is currently at a .282 batting average now, but he does also have nine fewer games with which to work. Still, Reyes has already reached a milestone this season in stealing his 400th base, and it seems he is still motivated to look for more milestones. Not only does Reyes have an outside shot at batting .300 by year's end, but he also has a shot at taking the stolen base lead from current leader Michael Bourn.

So what are Reyes's chances at both of these potential benchmarks?

Batting .300

Time is against Reyes's side here in the batting average department. Plate appearances this late into the season are a precious commodity, and even though Reyes has had four straight months of hitting .283 or better, he is still a hefty handful behind that mark. But what will it take to reach that goal?

ZiPS projects that Reyes has 83 PA left in his 2012 season, minus the five PA he posted in yesterday's 8-0 victory. So let us presume Reyes has 78 PA left this season. In his last three mostly healthy seasons, he has walked in about 7.1 percent of his PA, with an 8.9 percent mark this year. Let's take the median and give him an 8.0 percent shot of waking, meaning he will probably draw about six walks in those 78 PA. That leaves him only 72 at-bats with which to raise his batting average.

At the moment, Reyes already has 561 AB in 2012, and he has 158 hits in those AB. To hit .300 in the estimated 633 AB by the end of the year, he will need to have about 190 hits. That means that from here on out, Reyes would have to collect 31 hits in 72 AB. That adds up to a ridiculous .431 batting average the rest of the way. To get an idea of just how hard hitting that well is, consider that during Reyes's 26-game hit streak, he only hit .365 and got 38 hits in 113 PA and 104 AB. In other words, during Reyes's best streak of hitting this year, he only had seven more hits than he needs now to hit .300, but he did so in 32 more AB.

ZiPS expects Reyes to hit .293 the rest of the way, and given his career .291 average, that seems like a fair assumption. What are the odds a player who gets .293 hits every AB gets at least 31 hits in 72 AB? Those are odds are minute at just 0.5 percent.

Steals Champion

Reyes got to a slow start in the steals department this year, in part because he was not on base all that often at the start of the year. Still, as of late he has been taking off more often, stealing 10 bags in 13 attempts since the start of August. Overall, Reyes has not been as aggressive as he has been on the bases over the course of his entire career, but following his lower leg injury in 2009, he has toned down his attempts on bases in recent years, so the Marlins knew they were getting a less aggressive Reyes in 2012.

Reyes, Season SB Attempt% SB%
2010 18.5 75.0
2011 18.3 84.8
2012 19.8 79.5
2010-2012 18.9 80.0
Career 26.6 80.0

As you can see, despite the lost frequency of steal attempts, Reyes is still as successful now as he was many years ago when he was leading the league in stolen bases three years in a row.

But to catch league leader Michael Bourn, Reyes might have to step up his frequency, as Bourn holds a four-steal lead at the moment. In the three years prior to 2012, Bourn had been taking off at a 24.3 percent capacity, but this year he has slowed down his attempt rate to 17.9 percent. That is where Reyes's biggest advantage may lie, in the fact that Bourn is not attempting as many steals as Reyes when he gets on base. It may be a product of the Braves simply needing him to run less with a more potent offense, or the reverse in the case of Reyes with the Marlins, but their steal attempts are evening out. With almost even career rates (Bourn is at 81.4 percent), it is at least a decent bet that Reyes will keep step with Bourn.

In fact, that is more or less what ZiPS projects, as Bourn is expected to finish the year with 45 steals to Reyes's projected 40. For Reyes to make it, he will have to take off a few more times than that, and that may depend on his batting average and walk totals above.

So Reyes's chances at either mark are pretty slim, but we expected as much of him to set the goals relatively high. If anything, Marlins fans may be happy with a goal of 160, as in 160 games played. Reyes has only missed two games, and if he plays the rest of the year, this will mark the first time since 2008 in which he has played more or less a full season. If he gets to that full year, one or two of these milestones may even have a shot at being accomplished.