Despite power surge, Jose Reyes key to Blue Jays success

Jose Reyes
Jose Reyes is the straw that stirs the Toronto drink.

It’s taken a year-plus, but we’re finally seeing the offense that was supposed to take the Blue Jays to the playoffs last season. They lead the American League in runs with 268 through 54 games, averaging almost five runs a game, and they carry the home run lead by a wide margin.

But the main reason the Blue Jays offense is clicking this year is because of the man batting in the leadoff spot, Jose Reyes. After starting the year on the disabled list, and then having a tough time getting back into the groove, Reyes lit a fire under atop the lineup.

In 37 games, he’s hitting .260 with a .333 OBP, scoring 29 runs and stealing 11 bases. But as of May 28, Reyes is riding an 11-game hit streak, and he’s hitting .370 over that span. Also, the Blue Jays are 10-1 during his 11-game hit steak, and are on a nine-game win streak.

Despite the injuries and team changes over the last few years, Reyes is just 31 years old, even though it feels like he’s much older. He is undoubtedly the catalyst for this team when healthy.

He has a career batting average of .291 in the majors to go along with a career .342 OBP, so he’s not even playing to his normal standards at the moment. He also averages 53 steals a year over his career.

There is no doubt that Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion steal the show with monster blasts that make highlight reels, but it’s Reyes who gets on base and puts pressure on the pitcher setting those guys up for RBI opportunities.

This is the guy the Blue Jays envisioned at the top of their lineup when they made that huge trade with Miami, but in 2013, Reyes only managed to stay on the field for 93 games. However, in those 93 games, he managed to hit .296 with a .353 OBP.

In fact, he’s never hit lower than .273 in a single season since his second year in the big leagues when he hit .255 in just 53 games as a 21-year-old. He’s also never struck out more than 82 times during a season in his career.

And despite the notion that he’s injury prone, which he is, Reyes has managed to get over 500 at-bats in seven of his last nine seasons.

When this speedster can stay on the field, he is the most dangerous leadoff hitter in all of baseball. He can do so many different things to help a team win a game — he’s even hit double-digit home run totals six times in his career. Only twice has he failed to reach double-digits in home runs when he’s gotten at least 500 at-bats.

Whether or not the Blue Jays as a team are for real, there is no doubting the presence Jose Reyes brings to this team when he’s healthy and playing well. If the Blue Jays are to stay hot and atop the AL East, it will be because Reyes is back to playing at an MVP level.

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