Jose Reyes: Your 2008 National League MVP?

Andrew MeesAnalyst IAugust 18, 2008

Yes, you read that headline right.

And no, I haven't been drinking. Before you laugh this article off and consider it nonsense from an ignorant Mets' fan, I'll preface this piece by pointing out there may be no writer on this site that's been more critical of Jose than me. 

There have been points in 2008 where he's been a space cadet, in the field and on the bases, but if the Mets win the National League East, Reyes should be on the short list of candidates for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Trust me, I never thought I'd be writing a column dedicated to this topic after the month of May. Through the first two months, Reyes was driving Mets fans the world over towards their friendly, neighborhood drinking establishment.

But for the past two and a half months, this guy has been nothing short of the elite player we all thought he could be.

He has not only turned his season around, but he's become, without question, the most important player in the National League East race and the most important player to the "Amazin's" success. 

Still think I'm smoking the funny stuff? Let's take a look at how his numbers stack up with whom most believe is the front-runner in the MVP race: Mr. Chase Utley of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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Through yesterday's games, Reyes' 161 hits are tops in the national league (Utley has 133). His .304 batting average is 10th in the league, and second among NL leadoff hitters by a single point (Utley's .284 average places him 30th). 

While Utley smokes Jose in homers (30 to 13), Reyes trails only Hanley Ramirez of the Marlins in homers among NL leadoff hitters, as well as RBI (Jose has 53). His 40 stolen bases make him second in the league (Utley is 33rd with 10), and his 14 triples are also tops in NL (Utley has three, putting him 23rd). 

You might say to yourself, "Well, Utley is a power-hitter, and Reyes is a contact hitter, so he's going to have more hits and a higher average." And while that's a fair argument, you can easily refute it by checking out their total bases for the season. 

Utley is only ahead of Reyes by three, 262 to 259, putting Jose fourth in the league. Reyes' 88 runs scored put him third in the NL, and he only trails Utley in doubles by two (33-31) and on-base percentage by .007 (.368 to .361).

After a shaky first few months in the field, Reyes has also raised his game defensively and, barring a terrible final two months with the glove, will be in serious consideration for the Gold Glove at shortstop. 

While all these numbers are pretty telling in determining who's more deserving of the hardware at this point in the season, the true measure of the Most Valuable Player—at least in my opinion—is how important he is to his team's success. 

Talk to any knowledgeable Mets' fan and they'll tell you Reyes is by far the most important position player to the team's success. He is the engine that makes the offense run—when he's getting on base, they are an extremely dangerous group.

Because of this, he has become (along with Hanley Ramirez) the player in the NL East that simply cannot go down with an injury if his team wants to make the playoffs. 

That, to me, is an MVP. 

I'm not saying Jose will win the trophy. Lance Berkmann is having an amazing season—he tops Jose in every offensive category except hits and triples. But his team isn't going anywhere, and if Jose keeps going at this pace, his team will still be playing come October.

All I'm saying is that as you watch the season wind down, keep in mind the season Reyes is putting together. What once seemed like it could be a lost year for Jose could become the one that ends with the MVP trophy coming to Queens.

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