Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reyes v. Braun

Well Jose Reyes is the National League batting champ who everyone called a coward at the end of the season while Ryan Braun is the second best hitter but won the NL MVP and got to play baseball in October. Clearly Ryan Braun won the PR war but who wins the numbers game? According to the stats, who is a better hitter - Reyes or Braun?

The First and simplest stat to look at is Batting Average. As we all know Jose won here but its not much of a victory. Reyes hit .337 to Brauns .332 which is basically a push. You could argue that Braun was a better hitter because he accomplished his .332 over 24 more games however we don't have an easy to quantify that so I am comfortable saying that they had an equal batting average.

What about pure hitting ability? Actually putting the bat to the ball and getting it in play. Here Jose has the lead. Jose had a Contact % of 90.2% which means that every time he swung the bat he made contact 90.2% of the time. This outpaces Braun who had posted an 82.5 Contact %. Obviously this also lead to Reyes striking out less than Braun. Jose had a strikeout rate (K%) of 7 whereas Braun struck out 14.8% of the time, about twice as much as Jose. On basic hitting ability Reyes is the clear leader.

One place where Braun was a clear leader is power. In his best season Jose Reyes hit 19 home runs, last year he hit seven. Braun on the other hand hit 33 home runs in 2011.

The final stat we will examine to judge overall offensive efficency is Total Bases, this measures the number of singles, doubles, triples and home runs a player hits. Unfortunately, Braun pretty well owns Reyes here as well with 336 total bases to Jose 265. This is mostly a direct result of Brauns home run production, and shows that from a total offensive usefulness standpoint, Braun is a better pick than Jose.

Lastly lets take a quick look at the 2012 projections for both players (we are using the Bill James predictions found on Below are the basic numbers:

2012 Games Played
2012 AVG
2012 OBP
2012 OPS

According to the venerable oracle of sabrmetrics, Braun will be the more productive hitter in 2012. That being said, Jose still posts great 2012 numbers and will be a huge asset to the Mets or any other team that signs him. As for 2011 it appears that Reyes and Braun are fairly comparable players with Braun pulling ahead due to his power numbers. We didn't focus on Reyes speed and stolen base capacity or the value of having a leadoff hitter who gets on base as often as he does, which are all factors that increase Reyes value. While these are certainly important I don't think it means more than 26 additional home runs.

Recently on Clubhouse Confidential they offered a great explanation for what being MVP should mean. If you are a GM and you can add any one player to your roster knowing they will exactly repeat last years numbers, who would you pick? That player should be your MVP. As much as I love Reyes and what he brings to the Mets, Braun would be my clear choice.

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