A couple of years ago I read Dayn Perry’s Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones (And It’s Not the Way You Think) (Kindle version here). It’s an excellent book that breaks down different areas of statistical performance and tries to correlate which ones winning teams excel at.
One of the things Perry discusses is stolen bases. I haven’t re-read this section in a while but if memory serves his conclusion was that base stealing was not as important as one would think. But that was not the case in last night’s Mets game as the Mets stole a team record 7 bases and 5 of those times the runs scored. True that only 2 of those runs scored as a direct result of having moved up on the basepaths because of the stolen base but that turned a 1 run game into a 3 run game.
The interesting thing about these stolen bases was that they were all done without Jose Reyes. (David Wright led the charge with 4.) Reyes was held out of the game with a right calf injury. This is an injury that was allegedly suffered before Wednesday’s game and may explain why Reyes did not slide into third base when trying to advance on a ground ball hit to the left side of the infield. However it only strengthens the argument that Reyes should not have been running at all in that situation.
In my opinion Reyes was due for a day off anyway. Whether it’s because of an injury or a 1 game benching doesn’t matter much. The next thing he needs is a talking to by a teammate and or coach about using his head on the field. The miscue mentioned above was one of at least three committed by Reyes during the Atlanta series and the Mets were lucky to get one win out of those three games. I’m not blaming that all on Reyes but every play (and player) counts.
Through the Atlanta series people started talking about how Wright and Reyes need to not only play smart on the field but be team leaders off the field. While I agree with that I think it’s an unrealistic expectation. At this point in their careers they should be mature enough to be more Derek Jeter-like in the way they lead the team. But in their time in the majors they have never had someone along those lines in their clubhouse for any real period of time so how would they know how to be that kind of leader? Yes, they need to be like that. No, you can’t expect them to be like that. The Mets need another player to fill that role and show these guys how it’s done. They need a player that can do for them what Don Baylor did for the 1986 Red Sox.
Before the Sawx got Baylor they categorized themselves as 25 guys taking 25 different cabs home after a game. Baylor was given credit for pulling the team together as a group. This made them a much better team. Many say that they would not have won the AL pennant that year if not for Baylor’s leadership. This is the kind of player the Mets need to (a) bring the team together and (b) teach Reyes and Wright about team leadership.