2011 Season in Review: Ruben Tejada

The New York Mets went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an on-going series, will analyze every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at middle-infielder Ruben Tejada.

New York fans have very little patience for just about everything–but particularly player development. When Ruben Tejada was re-called in 2010 and posted a dismal .213/.305/.282 line in 255 plate appearances, fans wrote Tejada off as a fringe player with no future in the Major Leagues. Despite the premature label, people sort of forgot that Tejada was just 20 years-old when he made his Mets debut. Contrary to his supposed lacking talent, the extremely young Tejada had steadily moved up in the Minors, starting at Rookie Ball in 2007 as a 17 year-old, and seeing his first Triple-A at-bats as soon as 2010 (when he was 20).

Granted, Tejada never exhibited much pop down on the farm (5 homeruns in 553 plate appearances in 2009)–but then again, how many 21 year-olds have fully-mature baseball bodies? Building off of his shaky first season, Tejada enjoyed a very solid sophomore season, swatting a .284/.360/.335 line with 0 homeruns, 36 RBI, 31 runs, and 5 stolen bases in 376 plate appearances.

From a month-by-month perspective, the infielder only endured one particularly bad stint in July when he posted a .174/.309/.196 line in 55 plate appearances. On the other end of the scope, Tejada owned a .293/.341/.317 line in May, .272/.354/.296 line in June, .348/.423/.478 line in August, and .297/.354/.341 line in September.

Tejada also continued to improve as a hitter, owning a solid 29.6% non-strike swing rate, and an elite 84.9% Contact%. In addition, the young hitter was able to limit his strikeouts (13.3%) and post a very respectable walk rate (9.3%).

Hitting aside, Tejada also established himself as a reliable defender at both shortstop and second base. Even though he posted a -0.3 UZR/150 in 353 innings at shortstop, his 3.9 RngR illustrated his great range. In addition to his solid play at shortstop, the infielder boasted a 3.3 UZR/150 in 457.3 innings at second base–a position many organizational people feel is a better future fit for the 21 year-old.

With the potential departure of Jose Reyes, many people have inappropriately wondered if Ruben Tejada could truly take the reigns at shortstop in 2012. Considering how special a player Reyes is, it’s fair to say that no one–including Tejada–could replace Reyes. However, to Tejada’s credit, the infielder did own a 1.8 fWAR in 2011, which was equivalent to $8.1 million. Ruben Tejada may not be Jose Reyes, but he’s not exactly chopped liver either.

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