By Ethan Marshall
The left side of the Mets infield played a big role in making them playoff contenders from 2005 to 2008. Jose Reyes, nicknamed “Mr. Excitement,” presented a threat to opposing pitchers and catchers every time he got on base. He provided life at the top of the lineup. So often would he start the first inning with a single and a stolen base or a triple before scoring, that the term “Reyes run” was used to refer to this. Over this four-year period, Reyes stole a combined 258 bases, leading the league in that category in all but one year, including a franchise-record 78 stolen bases in 2007. He had no fewer than 190 hits in any of these seasons. In 2008, he posted a league-best 204 hits. Reyes also combined for 65 triples, leading the league in that category in three of the four years.
While Reyes provided the speed, Wright provided the power. He hit 116 home runs and drove in 449 runs over that span. He finished fourth in MVP-voting in 2007, when he had a 30-30 year, batted .325, slugged .546 and had an OBP of .416. It became a familiar sight for Mets fans to see David Wright driving in Jose Reyes. Not since Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry in the 1980s had there been such a talented and admired duo of Mets. The young dynamic duo seemed destined for Hall of Fame careers, but injuries kept sidelining them, likely ruining their chances.
While the two have been reunited as teammates on the Mets, Wright has yet to take the field since Reyes was signed to replace his injured buddy. Injuries have kept the captain sidelined for over a year, but he recently took a big step forward when he was cleared to resume baseball activities. Reyes has been vocal of how much he misses Wright, and is optimistic that the captain will play this season.
While Strawberry and Gooden were terrific athletes in their Mets careers, they didn’t get along as well as many people actually believed. Throughout their baseball careers, David Wright and Jose Reyes have been known to be very close friends. Reyes often described their bond as similar to that of brothers.
Now, 13 years after Wright and Reyes shared the left side of the infield for the first time, a new young duo has appeared in Queens. Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith, the Mets top two prospects, have now made their MLB debuts. Their relationship in the minors was very similar to that of Wright’s and Reyes’. After the game in which Smith made his MLB debut and Rosario hit his first career homer, both players spoke highly of each other and described the bond they shared as akin to that of brothers, just as Wright and Reyes have described their relationship.
Many Mets fans have already expressed that the new duo reminds them in both skills and personalities of those of Wright and Reyes. Like Reyes at his age, Rosario is a speedy shortstop with strong defensive skills and the potential to be a great hitter. Reyes has even become a mentor to Rosario since Spring Training, texting him almost every day. Since Rosario’s promotion to the Mets, he and Reyes are often spotted fooling around and having fun together. They both have a youthful and bubbly personality, making them likable in the clubhouse.
While Dominic Smith doesn’t play the same position as Wright, he has shown the same defensive ability as a young Wright. Perhaps the biggest similarity between the two is their ability to use the whole field effectively. Smith has shown strong opposite-field power in AAA Vegas this season, something Wright made a career doing (until Citi Field opened, designed basically against him with a deep rightfield). Both Smith and Wright showed a strong maturity despite their young ages. Perhaps Wright can become a mentor to Smith in the same way Reyes has for Rosario.
Whether or not Rosario and Smith can be as successful as Wright and Reyes, while also avoiding the constant injuries that slowed down the latter two, has yet to be seen. They haven’t played a month in the big leagues, but the hype surrounding them is very similar to when Reyes and Wright were top prospects. Time will tell whether or not they live up to the expectations presented to them.