Entering the 2011 season, the Mets are a team of low expectations and "what ifs." The fans don't think their team is going very far this season, but don't tell Jose Reyes that. Reyes says he has thoughts of MVP in his mind with spring training just 18 days away.
"There's no doubt I can put up MVP-like numbers, if I stay healthy," Reyes told Kevin Kernan of the NY Post. "MVP is something everybody wishes for. I'm still young. My talent is still here. I just need to stay healthy."
Reyes' belief that he can be productive in 2011 if he can stay healthy is certainly justifiable. In 2009, Reyes played in just 36 games before going down for the season and missed another 29 games last season.
Prior to 2009 though, Reyes had been extremely durable for the Mets, averaging 158 games per season from 2005-2008. During that four-year span, Reyes averaged a .287 BA, a .341 OBP, 113 runs and 64 stolen bases.
When healthy, Reyes IS the Mets offense. When he gets on base, the Mets score runs, it's that simple. In 335 games from 2005-2008, Reyes scored at least one run. The Mets record during that span? 237-98, or .707 percent.
With players like Albert Pujols (for now), Joey Votto and Ryan Howard in the National League, Reyes would have to have the greatest season of his career to even come close to winning MVP honors. The closest he's ever come was in 2006 when he finished seventh in the voting.
Reyes hit .300 with 19 home runs, 81 RBI, 122 runs and 64 stolen bases that season. There isn't a Mets fan alive who wouldn't sign up for that type of production this season.
But the Mets find themselves in a difficult situation with Reyes, who will be a free agent for the first time in his career at the end of the 2011 season. If Reyes has a productive season, the Mets might try to bring him back, but the price tag could be high. ESPN's Buster Olney believes Reyes' price tag could surpass $100 million with a good season.
Or the Mets could chose to shop Reyes at the trade deadline if they feel they won't be able to re-sign him. Reyes would be difficult to replace at the leadoff position but could fetch a hefty load of prospects in a trade.
Reyes isn't worried about any of that stuff, however. His eyes are firmly set on staying healthy and putting up MVP-caliber numbers this season.
There is reason for optimism at Citi Field in 2011. It's not much, but we'll take it.