“Jose Reyes is a fantastic player, with a lot of natural baseball instinct. But a lot of his game is physical, and as he gets older, and has to make up for that physical loss, he most certainly will not be worth the back-ended deal he is getting. Ruben Tejada is not Jose Reyes, and that’s a good thing. He is not the physical specimen Reyes is and because of it he has to compensate with a very high baseball IQ. I can’t tell you how many times Ruben Tejada kept working the count and fouling off pitches in 2011, when he would have struck out or gotten jammed in 2010. He impressed me at the plate, and he was only 21! I am very excited to see this kid grow right before our eyes, and I know he will not let the pressure of replacing Jose Reyes get in the way of performing.”
–Me, The Day Jose Reyes Grew Fins, February 2012
Putting aside the ridiculousness of me quoting myself, Ruben Tejada indeed did not let the pressure get to him. In Fact, he didn’t believe in whatever we think “pressure” is. He did his thing, and it was awesome for us as fans to be apart of the Education of Ruben Tejada.
How He Handled the Bat
He actually started off a bit slowly in 2012. After a 4 for 5 day in the 3rd game of the year brought his average to .364, he steadily declined through April, hitting his season low of .239 on April 26, still higher than Jose Reyes’ .205, who was starting off slowly in Miami and went 0-4 against the Mets that same day. Ruben was, however, keeping his OBP above .300 with a .316. The next day, when the Mets lost 9-18, he went 4 for 6 to quickly bring his average to .274. By the end of the weekend in Colorado, he used the mile-high air to bring it to .310. Unfortunately, 6 games later, Tejada took a tumble, and his numbers were stuck on .305, having gotten his OBP up to .362. He was hitting a ridiculous .340 or so with 2 strikes; working the count and getting on base, and us Mets fans were missing his exciting at bats until June 24. From there, he went on a tear, topping out for the year on July 4th at .331. From there, though he kept his average above .320 for another 8 games, Ruben’s hot streak steadied off, and he eventually fell under .300, bottoming out for the 2nd half at .284 on September 16th. He finished the year with a .289 AVG, a .333 OBP and a slightly heavier .351 SLG. You see, Ruben, with his ability to find the baseball in the strike zone and make line drive contact, hit some doubles to raise the slugging, taking that extra base 26 times in the 134 hits he collected. He even went yard in the pitcher-friendly AT&T for the 2nd home run of his career and the 1st since 2010. He’s turning in Rey Ordonez home run performances, but with actual batting skills.
How he Handled the Glove
Absolutely fantastic. Without taking a look at his numbers and just using what my eyes witnessed, he’s a young man who takes great paths to the ball from both his left and right side, and can sling it across the diamond as good as anybody. When looking at the numbers, we see a growing player at shortstop with 12 errors in 964.2 innings, good for a .974 fielding percentage. He turned 72 double plays, assisted 280 outs and put 164 out on his own. The Fielding Percentage was actually the 3rd best in the game with a minimum of 900 innings played at shortstop on the year. Jose Reyes was the 4th best with a .973 fielding percentage. Heh.
How He Handled the Facial Hair
Projected Role for 2013
He is nothing but our shortstop of the future. I look forward to Ruben Tejada getting big hit after big hit for the remainder of his Mets career, which I hope is his entire career.
Contract Status/Chance of Being Traded
Ruben will make the league minimum next year, and he is not arbitration-eligible till 2014. I’m sure he’s very attractive to other teams, and they will most assuredly ask about the young player this offseason as the Mets attempt to wheel-and-deal. I think he might be more untouchable than others, though, as the Mets already have enough holes to fill. I expect Ruben Tejada back, and I expect the soon-to-be 23-year-old to be better than ever come 2013.
(He shares his birthday with a certain Mets anniversary, as well as with Jon Niese.)
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