Position scarcity and injury risk. These are two frequently used fantasy baseball buzz words. The former is the reason why Jose Reyes is an attractive fantasy option. The latter is the reason why many would not even consider drafting the shortstop. So which side is right? Should you be drafting Reyes or not?
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Let's start with the good. From 2005-2008, Reyes was as good as they get. He averaged 14 HR, 64 SB, 113 R, 66 RBI, and a .287 average. The only recent comparables to that set of numbers would be Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2009 season (slightly less power, slightly better average) or any season Carl Crawford had prior to last year (power, RBI, and average all spiked in 2010).
Reyes also knows how to take a walk and keeps the strikeout rate down thanks to an above-average contact rate. When healthy, there is really no one quite like Jose Reyes. And Reyes was extremely durable during that ’05-’08 stretch as he had over 700 plate appearances in each season.
But that “when healthy” is the catch with Reyes. After the stretch of durability those four years, Reyes played in only 33 games in 2009 and missed an additional 29 games last year.
You could certainly criticize me for being wary of Reyes’ injury history while simultaneously advocating Troy Tulowitzki as a top five pick despite his three trips to the DL since 2008. However, the types of injuries the two shortstops have sustained separate the two.
Tulo first tore a quadriceps tendon while making a defensive play in 2008. Sure, this type of injury could occur again, but he has had no recurring issues as a result of this injury.
Tulo again saw the DL in ‘08 after he lacerated his palm when slamming a bat to the ground in frustration. This is one of those, dumb, freak, should-not-happen-again type injuries.
And last year Tulo hit the DL with a broken wrist after being hit by a pitch. Something like that could happen to any player and does not indicate Tulo is “injury prone.”
On the other hand, Reyes first suffered a calf injury in 2009, later tore that calf muscle, and then tore a hamstring later in the season. These types of recurring leg injuries tend to make me think “injury prone” more so than the types of injuries Tulo has suffered. Maybe that is the wrong way to look at it, but that is just my perception.
So the ultimate question is this: Does Reyes’ upside and the lack of depth at shortstop outweigh his potential risk of injury? For three reasons, I have to say no.
First, I tend to be a risk-averse fantasy player, and it has always served me well. I would rather build a team full of guys that I can be reasonably certain about what type of production I will get from them. For those of you that do not mind a little risk, Reyes may be your guy. Your level of risk avoidance is simply a personal preference, but I would recommend you be safe rather than sorry.
Second, is the upside really that high? It's not like Reyes is going all that late. He is currently going 35th overall according to ESPN’s live draft results. If he was going a little bit later in the range of some other guys who also carry some risk like Justin Morneau (57th) or Jimmy Rollins (62nd), then I would absolutely be willing to take on Reyes’ risk. But with only a couple of rounds of upside, I do not think the risk is worth it.
Finally, there are too many other players going around Reyes that I would rather have. Going directly in front of Reyes are Justin Upton (33) and Shin Soo Choo (34) who I would most certainly rather have than Reyes. Likewise, Adam Dunn and Andrew McCutchen are going right after Reyes. I would even take the next level outfielders like Ichiro Suzuki (45), Jayson Werth (48), and Hunter Pence (55) as well as Clayton Kershaw (38), Justin Verlander (39), Tommy Hanson (46), and Ubaldo Jimenez (47) who are all pitchers going after Reyes.
Moreover, I would rather wait and grab any number of other shortstops including my boyfriend, Alexei Ramirez (87), Stephen Drew (110)and his “a little bit of everything” production, or Jose Reyes-light, Rafael Furcal (138).
Written by Brett Talley exclusively for www.thefantasyfix.com
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