Should Jose Reyes Move Down the Order?

There's been a lot of talk around the Mets about something Jerry Manuel said about how he's trying to change the mindset of his team. Part of it has to do with where Jose Reyes is going to be hitting this season.  

"Whether that means Jose batting second, third, whatever -- first or leading off -- you have to accomplish that. And that's a big part of the message throughout spring training: The game takes precedent over individual stats."

It would be easy to write this off as just another manager making a point about how important it is to put the team first, but Manuel may actually have stumbled onto something here. Conventional baseball wisdom holds that Reyes is fast, therefore he must lead off, but actual wisdom brings a more complicated answer.

Reyes had a .358 on-base percentage in 2008, a career-high. It's a good number, not great for a leadoff hitter, but certainly passable. Take note, though, that Luis Castillo didn't post an OBP below .358 from 2002 until last year. Castillo's going to be the Mets second baseman to start the year, so why not put him in a spot where his OBP can help the team the most? Reyes, batting third in this scenario, would get to use his complete complement of skills to spur the offense.

Maybe he'd steal fewer bases, but hitting between David Wright and Carlos Beltran would do a lot for the rest of his numbers. Assuming Castillo got on base at something close to his career .367 clip, they'd score something close to the 799 runs they posted in 2008 and maybe more. That's not the only option, Amazin Avenue has a comprehensive look at the choices, but it may prove to be the best one.

It's the best because the Mets are lacking an ideal number two hitter and have some question marks at the bottom of the order. Castillo isn't great in either of those spots, but he can get on base and the Mets should use that for all that it's worth.

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