When it comes to baseball, I am a strong believer that there is nothing better for you than playing the game. Getting reps, taking swings, making throws, seeing pitches, doing your regular routine - in my opinion, all of those things help more than any amount of working out or mental preparation could ever could. You just need to be near the game and to play.
With that said, I usually like to give players a week or two when returning from an injury before I really start evaluating them. With baseball being a game of milliseconds and millimeters, even the most imperceptible delay can be the difference between a home run and a harmless fly out.
In the cases of Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, I was willing to give them longer than that. Not that I didn't hope or expect them to perform well - but I decided before the season that I would not make any conclusions about their future performance based on anything I saw from them in the first MONTH of play. Offensively and on the basepaths, that is. I think that defensively, it's a different kind of evaluation.
I did that for Beltran and Reyes this year the same way I did it for Wright last year. The same way I do that for a player on an opposing team. The same way I do it in fantasy baseball. It's not homerism - it's just an acknowledgement that baseball is a peculiar game and that it's silly to expect someone to come back to playing the game at its highest level on the planet without a delay.
Without any further adieu, I present to you the statistics for Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, sans first month of play:
Carlos Beltran: .244/.360/.390, 750 OPS, .254 BABIP, 16 bb, 11 K
Jose Reyes: .301/.333/.461, 795 OPS, .313 BABIP, 19 bb, 36 K
Remember, of course, that the above line for Beltran does not include his double and home run from tonight. For both players, these present significant improvements over their season slash lines.
In addition, Beltran might be a victim of some bad luck -- his career BABIP is .301 and he's been hitting the ball at roughly the same rates as before, if with slightly less authority. Another 30 points of average, and that line is more like .274/.390/.430, which is something I'd sign up for.
As we turn our eyes to 2011, it is important that we do a good job - a smart job - taking inventory of what we have. Particularly of players like Reyes and Beltran, who are under Met control for 2011 but not for 2012.
Everyone who reads here will know where I fall on this topic, and I think it would behoove Mets management to take a good hard look at how Beltran and Reyes finish up this season, rather than how they started it, in making their evaluations going forward.