Coming to grips with Ruben Tejada as the starting shortstop

Ruben Tejada, Miami Marlins' Juan PierreSandy Alderson has been cryptic this offseason in regard to what he is going to do about the shortstop position. On the one hand, he hinted at signing Stephen Drew when he stated that he would be open to signing any free-agent on the market. However, he also said he believed that Ruben Tejada could be the Mets starting shortstop, and could handle the position as a regular.

It’s been confusing, because sometimes we have been led to believe that the Mets will make some kind of upgrade at shortstop. Other times it appeared that Tejada is going to be the shortstop. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to Aldersons thoughts, so I don’t know what his strategy is. Maybe he is trying to avoid creating pressure to make a short-term move. Maybe he’s waiting it out, so that the price will come down on Drew. This is all conjecture, but those are a couple of reasons why Alderson may have been evasive about his plans for shortstop.

Tejada was terrible last season as he hit a line of .202/.259/.260 in 57 games, and had a -0.3 fWAR. There was nothing pretty about Tejada’s performance in 2013. However, we shouldn’t be too quick to write him off. He only played 57 games in 2013, and in both 2012 and 2011 Tejada performed well as the Mets starting shortstop.

Here are Tejada’s 2011 and 2012 stats

2011: .284/.360/.335, BABIP .331, wRC+ 99, fWAR 1.6
2012: .289/.333/.351, BABIP .340, wRC+ 93, fWAR 1.8

There are a couple of caveats when looking at these stats. In both of his successful seasons he had a BABIP that sat around the .330-.340 range, which is a little high and not sustainable. Obviously, we saw Tejada regress back to the mean in an extreme way in 2013 with a BABIP of .228. Tejada was really lucky in 2011 and 2012, and then was really unlucky in 2013. Tejada’s BABIP will be higher next season; it won’t be abnormally high but it should be closer to his true talent level.

The other worry about Tejada is that a lot of his offensive production relies on his ability to make contact. His walk rate over the past two years has been between 5-6%. He can draw some walks, but he’s not known as a passive hitter. If he’s going to be somewhat productive with his bat, he’s going to need to hit at least .260. If he hits any lower the Mets might as well look around for another replacement level scrub.

Expecting Tejada to be the player he was in 2011 and 2012 is unrealistic. Assuming that he’s going to be as bad as he was in 2013 is assuming too little of him. Tejada looks like he will be a slightly below average shortstop. The steamer projection system has him hitting a line of .260/.317/.339 and producing a 1.7 WAR. That’s not an exciting projection, and it indicates that Tejada is not a long-term solution. However, it does indicate that Tejada is not the worst possible option, and that he can play the position in the event that the Mets don’t bring in a new shortstop.

9 comments for “Coming to grips with Ruben Tejada as the starting shortstop

  1. Rev.Al
    January 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    If we are creating more hitting in the line-up? we can live with a weak hitting S/S…but need the sure day in day out S/S glove to be there, and that is my question, who will give you that? between Tejada and Drew. Who is that person to be?

  2. Metsense
    January 26, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Tejada is not durable. The most games he has played in a year is 114. His best season still makes him a below average shortstop. It indicates that in the event of an injury to the starting shortstop he would be a good back up. The Mets can’t’ afford to have Lagares and Tejada in the same lineup.

  3. blastingzone
    January 26, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Wow the mets were going to get a new SS until they saw the prices but what I don’t get is why
    they didn’t or couldn’t trade for one? Their are several good young ones available but the mets would have to give up something and I guess Sandy doesn’t want or is afraid to give up
    a good young prospect? Syndergaard aside (who is and should be untouchable) all other prospects from Montero to ? should be tradable and we shouldn’t have to put up with a retread
    who had a horrible year last year! Its bad enough we have to put up with one at first instead
    of signing Abreu and playing him because as Jeff said ” they have a log jam of players at first base already” which translates to why should they spend the money and sign Abreu when they have so many cheap options to play their already! The mets don’t have other options at
    SS so for now they are stuck with Tejada until Drew’s price comes down!!

  4. Sean Flattery
    January 26, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I don’t suscribe to the doom and gloom surrounding Tejada. He’s still very young and the potential is there to be a solid major leaguer. In my opinion, any success or failure the Mets have this year will not hinge on Tejada’s performance. He’s more than capable of hitting for a decent average and playing stellar defense. Hopefully, the fans will come out and support him despite his poor season last year.

  5. NCMetFan
    January 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    look at Drew’s splits away from Fenway, same for his road splits away from Arizona. Not much better than Tejada. Drew is not the answer. Let Tejada see what he can do in 2014 and if it’s not enough then look for a FA SS next year. Drew would be behind Hardy, Cabrera, and possibly Escobar so the options improve by waiting.

    • NormE
      January 26, 2014 at 5:57 pm

      The problem with the “waiting” strategy is that you can’t guarantee that just because a player will be available next year the Mets will be able to sign him. Other teams, the Mets budget and other factors ( see Grant Balfour) come into play.

  6. Rev.Al
    January 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    I got an idea ! let the Met farm produce a S/S :-)

  7. Greg
    January 26, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    “regress back to the mean in an extreme way in 2013 with a BABIP of .228.”

    That’s not regressing to the mean. Tejada plowed through the mean and left it far behind in his rear view mirror.

  8. amazin
    January 27, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Sign Drew. Quickly. Offer 2 years and 20 million.

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