Commentary

Henderson believes Reyes could steal 100 in future

Originally Published: September 11, 2007
By Enrique Rojas | ESPNdeportes.com

Fortunately, God's commandment to Moses -- "Thou shalt not steal" -- doesn't apply to baseball. If it did, Jose Reyes would be in big trouble.

The Mets' shortstop has become baseball's most feared base stealer, with 199 stolen bases over the past three seasons and 231 in his six-year career.

Jose Reyes

Reyes

Shortstop
New York Mets

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM HR RBI R OBP AVG
141 10 49 106 .360 .288

In 2007, Reyes leads the majors with 75 stolen bases -- a new team record for the Mets and the most in baseball since Marquis Grissom stole 78 in 1992. Plus, he became the first major league infielder with 60 or more stolen bases in three consecutive seasons.

"I like to steal," Reyes said to ESPNdeportes.com. "It is the most fascinating part of the game for me."

Working with first-base coach Rickey Henderson, Reyes is on track to reach 85 stolen bases, which would be the most since Henderson swiped 93 in 1988. Only one Latin player, Panamanian Omar Moreno, has stolen more bases in a season than Reyes. Moreno had 96 with Pittsburgh in 1980.

"I like the number 80, but I could go further. I could steal more than 80 bases," Reyes said.

"Reyes has the talent to steal 100 bases, but he is just learning how to use those wonderful legs he has," said Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader with 1,406.

Henderson, who played for 25 years, surpassed the 100-steal mark in three different seasons, including 1982, when he set the single-season record with 130 stolen bases.

But while Henderson and other great base stealers of the past have played in the outfield, Reyes plays shortstop, one of baseball's most physically demanding positions. Maury Wills, with 104 in 1962, is the only other shortstop to surpass 100 steals in a season.

The most important thing about Jose is that he's not afraid when he gets on the field and he's only 24 years old. Give him some time.

--Rickey Henderson

Reyes is batting for .198 (17-for-86) with 12 stolen bases and 14 runs in 20 games since Aug. 18, dropping his batting average from .303 to .288. Looking to get him out of the slump, manager Willie Randolph left Reyes on the bench last Thursday for the Mets' final game in Cincinnati. Yet since then Reyes has gone 2-for-15.

"It is not easy to keep the same intensity for six months, but I think I'm going through a slump, one of those that affects you whether you are tired or not," said the switch-hitting Reyes, who has 29 doubles, 12 triples and 10 home runs among his 172 hits. He also has 106 runs scored and 49 RBIs.

"The most important thing about Jose is that he's not afraid when he gets on the field and he's only 24 years old. Give him some time," Henderson said.

Maybe the best description of Reyes was offered by one of his old coaches, Washington Nationals manager Manny Acta.

"Reyes is not a one-dimensional player," said Acta, who was the Mets' third-base coach for two years. "Although he is the best stealer in the league, he is also one of the most complete players in the game.

"He is one of my favorites."

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.