During his best big league years, Jose Reyes was one of the best at stealing bases the New York Mets ever saw. He was also one of the final masters at the swiped bag.
By the time he became an everyday player, Reyes developed a reputation as a base stealer. His first full year in 2005 included a league-leading 60 stolen bases. A year later he stole 64 before setting an even greater total in 2007 with an astonishing 78 stolen bases.
Only a little more than a decade later, it’s practically unheard of for a guy to come even close to the 78 stolen bases Reyes amassed at age 24. We’re lucky to see multiple players pass 50.
To show how impressive this feat was, only one guy has reached 70 stolen bases since Reyes. Jacoby Ellsbury accomplished this with exactly 70 in 2013. No one else has come anywhere close to Reyes’ total.
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You have to go back to 1992 to find the last man to steal 78 bases or more in a single season. Marquis Grissom was the man who did so. Only a few years after the hectic 1980s which featured several seasons of men reaching triple-digits, Grissom set a total nobody would match for more than a decade.
Reyes’ 78 swiped bags remains a modern-day baseball achievement worth remembering. Many of the great stolen base seasons took place in the early days of the game when home runs weren’t plentiful, but theft on the bases was. When considering his peers, the 2007 season is up there as one of the great years by anyone who made a living with their speed.
If stealing bases frequently wasn’t enough, Reyes also hit for a high batting average and was more than a singles hitter. Many doubles were turned into triples thanks to his wheels. Four times Reyes led the league in triples. One of the few seasons during his prime when he didn’t was in the remarkable 2007 campaign. However, he more than made up for it with the extra stolen bases.
Like with all speedsters, there came a time in his career when the stolen base numbers began to fall. The last time he reached 40 was in 2012 as a member of the Miami Marlins.
In his 2016 return to the Mets, we saw a much different version of the man. Clearly deflating at the plate, he also didn’t steal bases nearly as often.
Somehow, though, in 2017 Reyes did swipe 24 bags at age 34.
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In today’s baseball world, you won’t find many men of this age to have so many green lights and beat the pitchers and catchers. Reyes did and it’s worth marveling over.