After Andres Torres went down with a strained calf on Opening Day, Ruben Tejada was called upon to take his spot atop the order and all he has done is produce just like a top flight leadoff hitter should.
After seven games, Tejada is now 8-23 (8-25 overall) batting out of the leadoff spot and is sporting a sterling .414 on base percentage.
It was Tejada who started things off on Friday night against the Phillies. Against Cliff Lee, Tejada set the tone for the night, leading off the game with a double with Daniel Murphy knocking him in one batter later. From there, the Mets would go on to put enough runs on the board and beat the Phillies 5-2 in the first game of a key intra-divisional series.
While he’ll remind no one of Jose Reyes, Tejada is carving out quite a niche for himself.
Tejada has looked very comfortable at the plate and seems to have confidence in himself while letting the game come to him. You would think he might be pressing given the pressure he was faced with while trying to fill the void left by Reyes. After all, not only was Tejada replacing Reyes at short, but now he is replacing him at the top of the order. Tejada has not let anything faze him and has done everything in stride.
Although not blessed with great home run power, Tejada is certainly showing great gap power and now has an impressive five doubles on the year. That is good for first in the league (tied with the Rockies’ Michael Cuddyer). Astoundingly, Tejada ranks fourth in the league among shortstops in OPS (.934) ahead of such luminaries as Asdrubal Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Jimmy Rollins and the aforementioned Reyes. While of course this is an extremely small sample size, just the mere fact that Tejada is playing above expectations is refreshing and certainly a major reason why the Mets have started off hot.
A lot of people had their doubts about Tejada, and admittedly I was one of them. However, he certainly has a calmness to him and Tejada is certainly more than an ample replacement for Reyes.
He won’t charm the masses and bring a palpable sense of excitement to Citi Field the way that Reyes did, but Tejada is a grinder who will work his tail off to become a complete player.
We should appreciate what Tejada is: a burgeoning shortstop with good defensive skills and developing bat skills with growth for major improvement (remember, he is only 23 years old), while not focusing on what he isn’t: Jose Reyes.
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