Next up in our projection series is Ruben Tejada. This time last year there were all kinds of doubt and angst surrounding Tejada. The doubt mostly came over concerns how he would do replacing fan favorite Jose Reyes. The angst came largely due to his manager throwing a tantrum that Tejada did not report to camp early. A year later there seems to be a complete absence of both doubt and angst. Tejada did a credible job replacing Reyes and he showed up early to camp.
It was fun watching Tejada play last year, especially with his propensity to deli ver line drive hits. Line drives are the batted ball type that results in hits most often. According to Baseball-Reference, the BABIP on line drives last year in the National League was .707, compared to .238 for ground balls and .135 for fly balls. Tejada’s rates were .745/.239/.137, respectively in these categories.
Tejada was essentially average with his ground balls and fly balls and above-average with his success in turning line drives into hits. Tejada had an ultra-high 30.0 LD% last year, according to FanGraphs. That would have been the highest mark in MLB if he had enough PA to qualify. Unfortunately, LD% has one of the weakest year-to-year correlations around.
Bill Petti at Beyond the Box Score found LD% had a .22 year-to-year correlation, the worst of 28 hitting metrics he examined. We can all cite players whose batting average fluctuates greatly from year to year – check out David Wright’s last four years for an example if you can’t think of one off the top of your head. Anyway, batting average has a year-to-year correlation of .41 – nearly twice that of LD%.
Since so much of Tejada’s value is tied up in his ability to deliver line drives, it’s okay if you still carry doubts about him. Here’s what our group thinks Tejada will do this year:
Any LD% over 20 is really good. Not one of us thinks he’ll fall below 24%, which is kind of amazing. The other thing that stands out to me is that no one predicted Tejada would finish with a ton of PA. Since he’s likely to hit either first or second in the order – and Terry Collins has not given his players a ton of days off in his two years leading the Mets – it must mean that we all see a visit to the DL in Tejada’s future this year.
Here’s what the group thinks Tejada will do in 2013:
Finally, let’s close with a table comparing the Mets360 numbers to those of the other projection systems available on FanGraphs.
We see Tejada hitting for a higher average than the projection systems, but otherwise the numbers are right in line with what the models see him doing. The James model has him way short on playing time while the Oliver projection sees Tejada ripping five homers this year. As Mets fans, we should gladly trade HR for LD%.
Check back on Thursday for our next entry in the series.