In 1979’s Breaking Away, Dave Stoller (Dennis Christopher) wants to race his bicycle in Indiana University’s Little 500, except Dave needs to be part of a team of four cyclists and none of his three fellow “cutters” (they’re not students at snooty IU, rather townies born and raised in Bloomington, thus the elements of conflict) know the first thing about bike-racing. Nevertheless they enter as a unit and let Dave do all the pedaling for as long as he can. Once the race is underway, we see Dave whooshing by his teammates as they look on in ever lessening degrees of engagement. Their major contribution for the balance of the race is to stand by semi-interestedly and issue as sincerely as they can muster a series of “way to go, Dave” nods of encouragement. Of course at some point, buddies Mike, Mooch and Cyril have to take turns on the bike and contribute to the team effort — and because they do, Team Cutter wins the race.
So yeah, about time we saw some Met sluggers slug some grand slams last night. But really, this night, like this year, belonged to Jose Reyes.
Jose Reyes leads the Mets in base hits…the 1972 Mets. No Met in that 156-game season had even 100 hits; Tommie Agee led the team with 96. Granted, no Met played in more than 122 games that season, but Jose Reyes has played in only 76 games in 2011 and he has 117 hits.
Jose Reyes leads the 1972 Mets in base hits by more than twenty and he hasn’t even played half a season.
Jose Reyes is currently tied for second on the 1994 Mets for base hits. He has his 117 in 76 games. Bobby Bonilla had 117 in 108 games. Jeff Kent led the club with 121 in 107 games. Those Mets played only 113 games in toto because of a strike, but Reyes has played only 76 games, and he’s right there with them and on the verge of leaving them all behind before this year’s halfway point.
Injecting him into random FULL Met seasons that ranged from 144 to 163 games, the Jose Reyes who has played 76 games in 2011 is second on the 1963 Mets in hits. He is second on the 1968 Mets. He is third on the 1977 Mets. He is fourth on the 1989 Mets. He is fourth on the 1995 Mets. He is third on the 2001 Mets. He is fourth on the 2009 Mets, which included Jose Reyes, albeit for 36 pre-injury games.
None of the above Mets teams’ full seasons was particularly swell. Want a sweller point of hypothetical comparison?
Jose Reyes is fourth in base hits on the 1973 National League champion Mets, trailing only Felix Millan, Rusty Staub and Wayne Garrett. Garrett had 129 in 140 games. Reyes has 117 in 76 games (he missed three to attend his grandmother’s funeral). Reyes leads John Milner, who had 108 hits in 129 games, or more than 50 than Reyes has played to date.
Not swell enough for ya? Try this:
Jose Reyes is third in base hits on the 1969 World Champion New York Mets, trailing only Cleon Jones and Tommie Agee. Gil Hodges liked to platoon, so none of his regulars or semi-regulars played in as many as 150 games that championship season. But eleven of them played in more games than Reyes has thus far. And only two of them have more hits for that entire magical year than Reyes has in his current magical year.
Jose Reyes is third in base hits on the 1988 Eastern Division champion Mets, who, like the ’69ers, won a hundred games in the regular season. Reyes has more hits in 76 games than anybody but Kevin McReynolds and Darryl Strawberry collected across a generally triumphant 160-game schedule. And Davey Johnson wasn’t platooning all that much.
Individually speaking, Lance Johnson owns the Met record for most base hits in a season, with 227 in 1996, accomplished during a most prodigious offensive era in baseball. Through 79 team games that year, Johnson had 105 hits — or a dozen fewer than Reyes has now. For ALL of 1996, only Johnson, Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley and Rey Ordoñez had more base hits than Reyes does for not quite half of 2011. Rey Ordoñez played in 151 games to get to 129 hits. Jose Reyes has played in 75 fewer games and has 12 fewer hits.
Implicit in all this is Jose Reyes leads the 2011 Mets in base hits by a wide margin: 39 ahead of Carlos Beltran, 41 ahead of Daniel Murphy. Jose Reyes leads the 2011 Mets in just about every hitting category, save for home runs and runs batted in.
Jose Reyes leads the Mets.
There’s a hoary quote, legendarily offered as calming advice by the old Brooklyn Democratic boss Hymie Shorenstein to a concerned judgeship candidate who didn’t think his individual race was getting enough attention from the party. As hoary quotes from someone named Hymie Shorenstein tend to do, it comes in various iterations. This one, as related by Teddy White in Making of the President 1960, will suffice:
“Ah, you’re worried? Did you ever go down to the wharf to see the Staten Island ferry come in? You ever watch it, and look down in the water at all those chewing-gum wrappers, and the banana peels and the garbage? When the ferryboat comes into the wharf, automatically it pulls all the garbage in, too. The name of your ferryboat is Franklin D. Roosevelt — stop worrying!”
Grand slams following a grand slam drought are wonderful. Rising above .500 after a 5-13 start is marvelous. Tranquilizing the Tigers is outstanding and definitely worth watching from beginning to end. But mostly last night, as I have most of this year, I kept my gaze fixed on Jose Reyes as he singled twice, doubled, tripled, walked, stole a base, scored three times and led the Mets as Jose Reyes tends to do.
And I didn’t worry one bit.
Baseball-Reference examines the broader historic nature of Jose Reyes’s 2011 here, and what he’s doing is pretty darn expansive (never mind that it’ll be expensive).