After going 0-3 in the Mets’ 6-2 exhibition win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday night, Ruben Tejada is now batting .080 in Spring Training while also struggling to make consistent contact.
At what first was a promising start when he hit a home run off the Nationals’ ace Stephen Strasburg in early preseason action, Tejada has taken a nosedive ever since. Tejada’s spring slash line is an unsightly and forgettable .080/.193/.160. At least Tejada is making contact when he gets out, as he has struck out only eight times in 50 at-bats. Still the results have been ugly.
So, with the mantra that Spring Training (specifically spring training stats) means nothing, are we making too much about nothing?
Well, yes and no.
As long as Tejada’s gets this slump out of his system and takes a different approach at the plate when the games count for real, then yes, these awful stats can be brushed aside. However, if this funk continues we could be looking at a potential serious problem.
As has been noted before and especially in our series projections, Tejada does well when he hits line drives, but so far this spring Tejada is putting too many fly balls and ground balls in play. Is he trying to hit for power? For Tejada to get back into his comfort zone, he has to spray line drives to all parts of the field. It’s obvious that Tejada is not going to be much of a power hitter and without a good set of wheels to work with Tejada has to make good, consistent contact to be a valuable part of the offense.
Hopefully, Tejada gets back to basics and returns to the form he displayed in 2012. After replacing Mets’ legend Jose Reyes, Tejada did a great job transitioning as the Mets’ new shortstop. Tejada had a career year en route to posting a more than respectable .288/.333/.351 slash line.
With less pressure on him this year and apparently in better shape (remember Tejada only appeared in 114 games last year); Tejada should feel more at ease at the plate this season. But, again, the thing with Tejada is he relies on so many line drives for hits. The fluctuation of good line drive rates from year to year can be very volatile.
So while you can brush this off as just a spring tune-up, if Tejada does get off to a slow start then we can be looking at a regression for Tejada. That’s something no Mets’ fans want to hear.