Is there anything stopping the Jose Reyes train this spring?
The shortstop has been on an absolute tear through the Grapefruit League schedule so far, having smacked nine hits and a homer in just 14 at-bats for the Toronto Blue Jays, his MLB home club, before leaving camp to play in the World Baseball classic for his actual home club — the Dominican Republic.
That the Dominican team opened its tournament with a crushing 9-3 victory over Venezuela may been a bit of surprise in itself, considering that these are two of the powerhouse teams in the tournament; but even within a battle between two All-Star caliber offensive lineups, Reyes still found a way to distinguish himself.
In fact, you could even say he led the DR club to victory — literally.
Batting at his accustomed leadoff spot, Reyes set the table for his team throughout the four-plus hour contest, rapping out four hits against each of his first four at-bats. Sure, the DR won by a 9-3 score because of some timely contribution from folks like Hanley Ramirez and Robinson Cano, but their 13 hits were hardly what you could call a hit parade.
Sure, Reyes’ hits were all singles, and the two runs he scored doesn’t quite look as flashy as Cano’s three hits and three RBIs as far as counting numbers go; but, the Blue Jays shortstop was undoubtedly the spark plug for the DR machine, contributing to 30.7% of the team’s output.
Had it been Erick Aybar (0-for-4 batting second) leading off, let’s just say the game would have been much closer.
The Dominican Republic have now taken immediate control of Pool C in the WBC, and is poised to move on after beating their toughest opponent. The team likely needs just one more victory against either Puerto Rico and Spain (who would be considered vast underdogs) to move on to Miami.
For Blue Jays fans, it’s another sign that they might just be looking at the best leadoff hitter in baseball in 2013 — both in MLB and on the world stage.