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2005 Preview: Shortstop

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2004 METS SHORTSTOPS

                  AB      BA     OBP     SLG     OPS
Kazuo Matsui     445    .270    .331    .396    .727
Wilson Delgado   126    .286    .362    .381    .743
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All Mets SS      644    .272    .334    .387    .721
NL SS            643    .267    .318    .390    .708

Kaz Matsui was probably the most disappointing Met last season. He was brought in with the reputation of a power-hitting, gold-glove shorstop, and he proved to be neither, at least in his first go-round. His throwing arm was very underwhelming, accounting for most of his 23 errors at short last year. His offensive production had to be the biggest disappointment, though.

The Mets are paying him close to $7 million per year, and he was barely able to exceed the National League averages for BA, OBP, and SLG. However, there is precedence for Japanese hitters, particularly those named Matsui, to struggle a bit when they come stateside. Hideki Matsui posted a .287/.353/.435 line in 2003 after consistently putting up OPS marks in the 1000+ range while in Japan. Hideki rebounded nicely in 2004, hitting .298/.390/.522, which is very good (2nd among AL left-fielders to Manny Ramirez' .308/.397/.613).

Before looking at the stats, I would have pegged Wilson Delgado at .230/.270/.330, and I would have been way off. That he posted a .743 OPS is really remarkable to me, considering the fact that I don't remember him even getting a hit last season. He basically outperformed Matsui AND the average NL shortstop, all while being an afterthought to everyone, including myself. Miguel Cairo, who everyone applauds for having a terrific season with the Yankees in 2004, hit .292/.346/.417, or only slightly better than Delgado.

Jose Reyes will be moving back to shortstop in 2005, and I'm sure I speak for a lot of you when I say I hope he's finally going to stay healthy this season. We all know he has a world of talent, though he's been unable to remain on the field for long stretches at a time. When he does play, his biggest flaw has been his inability to draw a walk. Last year he picked up five walks in 220 at-bats. That's not a typo, by the way. Five walks! Leadoff men have to walk much more often than that. He doesn't have to walk 100 times in a season, but 60 would be great.

Not surprisingly, PECOTA doesn't think much of him: .266/.305/.387, which is Brad Ausmus territory. It does project him at 418 at-bats, which means he was at least somewhat healthy, but that line is very depressing. The problem with projecting Reyes is that his 2005 prediction is based on his age and past performance, which is spotty at best. PECOTA doesn't take into account natural talent, just performance, so if Reyes can come to the plate 500-or-so times this season, I think we'll see numbers a good deal better than PECOTA's.