Jose Reyes has frustrated fantasy owners in recent years.  After stealing at least 56 bases from 2005-2008 (topping out at 78 in 2007), Reyes has struggled mightily with injuries the past two seasons and totaled just 41 stolen bases in 710 AB.

In 2010 he struggled with an oblique injury that kept him in and out of the lineup. For a while it seemed to always impact his play.  However, he still managed to post the following line:

563 At Bats
.282 Batting Average (159 Hits)
11 Home Runs
54 RBI
83 Runs
30 Stolen Bases
.321 On Base Percentage
.428 Slugging Percentage
.301 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The fact of the matter is that his days as a 50-plus stolen-base player are likely behind him.  With the injuries he has suffered the past two years, the Mets are likely to rein him in as a way to keep him healthy.  That’s not to say that he’s not going to run at all, but he’s not likely a threat to run every time he gets on base.

I would think that he should still be a 30 SB fixture, but 40-45 would be more his peak then a foregone conclusion.  There were only 17 players with at least 30 SB in 2010, so that certainly still has value. But his elite stolen base status is likely no longer there.

Outside of that, as long as he is healthy, Reyes appears to be the same type of player that he always has been.  His speed, coupled with the dimensions of Citi Field, makes him one of the elite triples threats in the league.  He was one of only eight players to post double-digit triples in 2010 and, if he stays healthy, he is a good candidate to lead the league.

That certainly helps his ability to score runs.  Whenever you can get yourself into scoring position on your own, the chance of scoring increases exponentially.  Of course, it would help if the middle of the Mets lineup could get itself healthy and produce as we would expect.

Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay both struggled when in the lineup and missed time due to injury.  You have to think that the new regime will do what it has to do to get the middle of the lineup potent. But even if they did nothing, you would have to expect a rebound is coming.  The Mets were so desperate in 2010 that they toyed with Jose Reyes in the third spot, something I wouldn’t anticipate them doing again.

Hitting atop the Mets lineup should give him a great chance to score runs.  From 2006-2008, his low in runs scored was 113.  Obviously that was a different time.  The likely decline in stolen bases is going to hurt him, as is the weakness in the middle of the Mets lineup.  Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him approach the 100 run plateau, assuming he can stay on the field.

He also has a little bit of pop in his bat, reaching double-digit home runs on four different occasions.  If he’s healthy, there’s no reason to think that he can’t achieve that once again, even in Citi Field.

Now, let’s take a look at where I would project him for 2011:

.290 (174-600), 12 HR, 55 RBI, 100 R, 34 SB, .314 BABIP, .356 OBP, .458 SLG

Maybe I’m being optimistic with the number of at bats, but he did come close to this mark in 2010 despite missing time with injuries.

The bottom line with Reyes is this: While he’s not one of the elite shortstops in the league anymore (those honors go to Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki), he’s as good of an option as you are going to be able to get after the top two come off the board. 

There is some risk, and he’s no longer the stolen base threat that he once was, but he should steal more than enough bases to make him a great option.  He also has the potential to score a ton of runs with a little bit of power, giving him all-around appeal.

At one time we talked about him as a top three-or-four choice, but that’s no longer the case.  Now he’s probably a late second-round or third-round pick, depending on a few factors.  At that point, he’s a solid pick in my book.

What about you?  What are you expecting from Reyes in 2011?  Where would you be comfortable drafting him?

Make sure to check out some of our other 2011 projections:

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