Can Ruben Tejada exceed expectations again in 2013?

Ruben Tejada has little speed and less power. Yet despite that damning duo, Tejada was able to post a 2.1 fWAR last year in 114 games. If he plays a full season in 2013, it’s within reach for the Mets’ 23-year-old shortstop to put up a 3-WAR year. Mets fans got used to that type of production with Jose Reyes, but the only other shortstops in team history to post a 3.0 fWAR are Buddy Harrelson (twice) and Rey Ordonez (once).

While Tejada exceeded expectations last year, he suffered a significant dropoff in his offensive numbers between the first and second half. His OPS before the All-Star break was .786 while it fell to .628 in the second half of the year. Particularly disappointing was his production in September, when he posted a .266/.310/.294 slash line over his final 118 PA.

It was hard to chalk that up to getting tired, as he missed significant time during the year. Besides, a 22-year-old position player should be able to play a full season in a cold-weather city without falling apart. Instead, what did Tejada in down the stretch was some poor luck in his BABIP.

Before the break, Tejada had a .393 BABIP while in the second half he posted just a .311 mark in the category. In September, Tejada’s BABIP was just .302 over his final 118 PA. But if we look at his batted ball profile, we would have expected him to perform much better in the category.

Those people who post a high BABIP typically hit line drives, avoid infield pop ups and beat out infield hits. In September, Tejada had the sixth-best LD% among 166 qualified batters in MLB with a 29.2 percent mark. The top five batters who posted better LD% numbers in September had the following BABIP numbers: .333, .363, .429, .276, .357

Additionally, Tejada did not hit an infield fly ball and he beat out three infield hits in the month. Tejada should have had a BABIP closer to his first half numbers than what he ultimately posted.

A big question coming into the season was whether Tejada could come close to matching his 25.7 LD% from 2011 and his .331 BABIP. It turns out that he exceeded his LD% from the previous year, as Tejada posted a 30.0 LD% last year. But his BABIP only went up eight points.

We are coming into the point of the season where FanGraphs starts posting projections. Right now only the Bill James projection is available and that one has Tejada essentially matching his 2012 production. This projection sees Tejada notching a .685 OPS, identical to what he did in 2012, and with a .302 wOBA, two points lower than a season ago.

Last year’s Bill James projection had Tejada with a .656 OPS, 29 points below what he actually hit. Here’s hoping he can match last year’s 30.0 LD% and have a little better luck with the hits falling in. If he does that, I feel confident he will once again surpass his preseason projection.

20 comments for “Can Ruben Tejada exceed expectations again in 2013?

  1. January 2, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    He’s never had exceptional tools and I don’t think he’s going to develop them now. Over time, his numbers will average out. And when he finally hangs his cleats up for good,I think we’ll see how Ruben Tejada was a slightly above average shortstop who stayed with the same team throughout his career. (I hope)

  2. steevy
    January 2, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    With little power and little speed,as you said to start off,the thing he needs to do is get on base.His reduction in BB % was disturbing.

  3. Chris F
    January 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    One problem he faced was absolutely no consistency in the batting position through the year. Sure, he also faced the slide that the team generally did. If he can get set in somewhere, I expect he will do better. At least I hope.

    • Name
      January 2, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      I just looked at Tejada’s stats, and there wasn’t that much of a lack of consistency as you thought. He batted first 78 times, batted second 23 times, and batted other positions only 9 time.
      If i remember correctly, Tejada first got hurt with a quad strain(when he tripped and fell on his face while running to first). Then i remember him having a setback during his rehab. I’m not sure if it the same injury or a different one. Perhaps Tejada was still playing somewhat injured after he came back, thus accounting for some of the drop off in production. Or it could just be that pitchers started to figure him out.

      Hopefully he will be fully healthy in 2013 and he can finish with an average north of .300 this year.

  4. AJ
    January 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    The jury’s still out on Tejada, as it should be with any guy who has but one full season in the majors to go by. Can he be better than we saw last year? Sure… but then again, maybe he won’t be as good, or maybe what we saw last season is pretty much what he’s going to be. It will be one just more thing to add interest in watching the Mets this year.

    I like that Tejada seems to be a workman-like ball player. Maybe after all those years of showboating and dazzle from the ebullient Jose Reyes it’s a nice contrast to have a guy who’s more low key, who goes about his business in a less flashy but highly competent manner. I mostly enjoyed watching Reyes play for the Mets, but honestly, I don’t think I would have thought so well of him if he was wearing some other uniform doing the stuff he did. I don’t mean the triples and stolen bases and great fielding (who doesn’t want to see one of their players do that?) – I mean all the “extras”, the acting out, the over the top highs and the pouting lows. When Jose was a fresh young kid and the Mets were looking like a dynamic powerhouse it was all pretty exciting. But 2006 was long ago and the act got old as the team failed and then unraveled, and now I’d just as soon go for workman-like and highly competent.

    I hope Rueben is a fixture at short for the Mets for many years to come, but he’ll have to earn it.

    • jon
      January 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm

      I agree the jury is out. He hasn’t even completed one full season yet. 114 games doesn’t qualify. Which was the complaint many had with Jose. Yet he played in 125 plus games 7 of the last 8 years and over 150 5 times. Personally, Reuben reminds me of Rafael Santana who was a competent player. Good field and below average hitter but a starting major leaguer on the 1986 champs nonetheless. Now if we could have Gooden ,Darling, Straw, Keith , Carter, Orosco, mcdowell, etc….to surround him we may have something.

      • NormE
        January 3, 2013 at 9:08 am

        jon, good comp with Reuben and Rafael. Reuben is younger than Raffy was in ’86, so there is a chance for more upside.

      • January 8, 2013 at 11:45 am

        Santana was a fine complementary player on the 86 team, but he wasn’t half the hitter Tejada is. And the age difference makes it especially stark, since when Santana was Tejada’s age, he was struggling to hit .230 in A ball.

  5. Metsense
    January 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I have been a Tejada fan all along and I am actually disappointed with the end results of 2012. I expected him to almost sustain his first half results. All the above posters are correct in their analysis with some very astute points. NL Avg: 16HR, 61 RBI, .697 OPS at SS so Reuben needs to keep improving because the power numbers are never going to be there. He is an average solid shortstop and no cause for concern to upgrade in the next few years. Oh, and did I mention he is just 23 yoa.

  6. TJ
    January 3, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    At age 23, Tejada is certainly a solid if unspectacular player, but he is no leadoff hitter. He strikes me as a very solid #8 hitter and perhaps a #2 against lefties. Mets need to find themselves a real leadoff hitter before opening day.

  7. BringBackDaveTelgheder
    January 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    The OBP is scary considering how much he batted 8th. If he can’t improve it he’s going to make just too many outs.

    He was injured for a long time for something we were told wasn’t that serious. Either we were lied to, it was misdiagnosed, or he’s a slow healer. Not sure what the best option is there..

    • Name
      January 3, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      He only batted 8th in 2 games(7 PA)

  8. chris
    January 3, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I like Tejada and think he is a fixture at SS…I’m interested in seeing who his DP partner will be, Murphy hits enough to ear a spot on the field, but as Flores progresses and with Torver and Cechini developing, we may have an excess of middle infeidlers and be in a good position to trade

  9. John
    January 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    The thing with Tejada is that he always improved every year in the Minors even while moving up in leagues. Someone called him workmanlike and I think that is a great description. He learns from his mistakes and really plays like a veteran at this early age. It is kind of refreshing not seeing a player running into outs or making bonehead plays that cost the game.

  10. Johnny Appleseed
    January 3, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Tejada is a lot better than people are giving him credit for. He may not be very speedy or a power hitter, but he brings alot of intangibles and baseball knowledge to his game. Hes sound defensively and we did not skip a beat at the SS position when Reyes left. Hes patient at the plate and gets on base. Very mature for a young player.

    • Metsense
      January 4, 2013 at 7:42 am

      Player A: 111 OPS+, 2.8 WAR
      Player B: 90 OPS+, 1.9 WAR
      I like Reuben but I do see “a beat skipped”.
      Reyes was paid 10M with a WAR value of 12.6M . Tejada was paid .5 M with a WAR value of 8.55 M.
      Tejada’s real value is his salary, and that isn’t a knock on Reuben but a condemnation of the ownership for not reinvesting the savings into the ballclub. A good front office would have evaluated Tejada properly, traded Reyes, and reinvested the salary savings.

      • Name
        January 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        Reyes had no trade value last year! I know it’s been a while so i’ll refresh you.
        He was injured for the first half of July and when he came back, he was hitting around .200 and not stealing bases. Who would give up a significant piece for that?
        At the time, it seemed like getting a 1st round comp pick was probably the best route. Of course, the Marlins swooped in and cost us a higher pick, but that’s in hindsight.

      • JerryGrote
        January 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm

        Good points. And if, as most of us believe, his ceiling really isn’t too terribly much higher, then his trade value will never be better than it is right now.

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