Could the Mets start Wilfredo Tovar in 2014?

As we watch the Mets off-season 40-Man Roster take shape and as we watch the outfielder discussions regarding Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Shin-Soo Choo (amongst others) take place, we need to also be aware that the Mets are going to be looking at shortstops too.

Wilfredo TovarWhat if the team looked within the organization next Spring? Could Wilfredo Tovar beat out Ruben Tejada for the starting shortstop spot?

Tovar took over the shortstop at the major league level at the tail-end of this season. He only played in a handful of games but could he make the permanent jump from Double-AA Binghamton to CitiField?

He’s only 22 but he is in his sixth pro-season (all with the Mets). He is known for his defense and not his bat. He has plus speed; he stole 13 bases in the minors this year and added one more during his short audition for the parent club. In the minors, he put up a slashline of .263/.323/.340. At Binghamton, his fielding percentage was .981. We can’t really gauge the full extent of his potential major league defensive contributions next year but FanGraphs did give him a 1.0 UZR.

Tejada is a year older than Tovar. In just over 200 ABs, Tejada stole only two bases and put up a slash line of .202/.256/.260. His fielding percentage for the year was only .969.

It should be noted that only the San Francisco Giants turned fewer double plays than the Mets last year. The Mets turned 127 double-plays while the Giants turned 126. At the high end of the spectrum, the St. Louis Cardinals turned 177
double plays.

If the Mets go with Daniel Murphy at second, Tovar might be able to help him improve upon his 2013 defensive rating of -4.4. Couple that potential improvement with a Juan Lagares center field defensive rating of 25.4 and the Mets could be considerably more solid up the middle. If Tovar covered more
ground up the middle, then Murphy could perhaps edge a step or two closer to first base and that, in turn, could help their first baseman field that position a little better.

…and if we added a stud outfielder, maybe we might really have something.

9 comments for “Could the Mets start Wilfredo Tovar in 2014?

  1. October 19, 2013 at 9:17 am

    With Murphy having just barely adequate range it doesn’t matter who you put at shortstop. Don’t forget Ike had a terrible defensive year as well. Wright missing 6 weeks doesn’t help either. Collins ever changing defensive genius that he is kept putting players out of position. Imagine starting and seeing Daniel Murphy at first while Duda rots away in left field.

    • DD
      October 20, 2013 at 10:32 am

      Actually it does matter, quite a bit. At least Bill James thinks so.

      In his Historical Abstract, he writes of one Donnie Bush, who played shortstop for the Detroit Tigers of Cobb and Crawford and Bobby Veach, and who apparently was one of the worst ever at the shortstop’s side of making double plays. The Tigers won two pennants, one with Bush as a regular in his first full season; and not another over fifteen years despite those great players they had.

      Here’s a quote from that piece: If you make a list of the worst teams ever at turning the double play you’ll find two types of teams at the bottom of the list:
      1. Donnie Bush’s Tiger teams, most of which went about 80-74
      2. Teams which lost 100 or more games.

      Of course the 2013 Mets weren’t among the world’s worst ever, but one can see where the evidence leads. Among his conclusions was the finding that the shortstop’s role in making double plays is greater than most people think. Having a great double play combo doesn’t guarantee a title, but it makes beaucoup sense to field as good a pair as you can. Ergo it does matter, particularly since Murphy is likely to return.

  2. Metsense
    October 19, 2013 at 9:51 am

    The Mets have some gaping offensive holes in their lineup. Fowler, Lagares and Quintinalla were all 90 OPS points below average at their respective positions. The Mets gave the majority of starts to Davis at 1B and may do that again. deNaud didn’t show much in September. The Mets can’t afford to gamble with either Tejada or Tovar. They need to go out of the organization via trade or FA to secure a better shortstop. They also need a RF and an offensive upgrade in either left or center.

    • Metsense
      October 19, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Edit Young,(I wish Fowler)

  3. Jim OMalley
    October 19, 2013 at 10:04 am

    We definitely need an outfielder. There is no argument there. The question is how many more offensively contributing pieces will the Mets realistically be able to add based on current ownership’s budget preferences.

    • Robby
      October 19, 2013 at 11:38 am

      I like to see the Mets get Kemp. I know people are down on him but could be a good bounce back candidate. If they can sign Ellsbury or Grunderson then really you are fielding a much better team then last year. Not high on Choo because he can’t hit lefties. Ike deserves one more chance. HAs shown to much potential and success to give up on.

  4. October 20, 2013 at 1:01 am

    Could it happen?? Sure. Will it happen?? i don’t think so. The Mets will sign a free agent SS. They have to. Tovar will be in Vegas continuing his development and might be part of the second half call-up brigade with Puello and hopefully Pederson. :)

  5. Stacker
    October 21, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Tovar is not a plus runner at all. He stole 12 bases in AA this season but was also thrown out 7 times. Similarly, he was 14-for-22 in 2012 and 15-for-24 in 2011. He should stop trying to steal bases. Also, look up the highlight of him getting thrown out at the plate by Jay Bruce trying to score from second on a single. When I saw that play live, it confirmed everything I’d ever read about his mediocre speed. I expected a play at the plate, but he was about 20 feet short of making it even remotely competitive.

  6. Sean Flattery
    October 22, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    I don’t see it happening. I think starting SS will be Tejada or “outside hire.” It wouldn’t shock me if he was still on 40 man roster though

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