May 16, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) throws out a St. Louis Cardinals base runner at Busch Stadium. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Mets Season In Review: Ruben Tejada

The 2013 baseball season was not kind to Ruben Tejada. When he was on the field, his production was substandard. He suffered a quadriceps injury at Yankee Stadium on May 30th, which caused him to miss nearly two months. Then, when his rehabilitation stint was over, Tejada was assigned to AAA Las Vegas. When the 51s season was over, Tejada was recalled to New York, where once again, his time in the majors was cut short by an injury. This time, he broke his right fibula on September 18th in a game against the San Francisco Giants. Let’s take a look at Tejada by the numbers.

How He Did At The Plate:

In 227 plate appearances for the Mets, Tejada hit a paltry .202. His on-base percentage was equally poor at .259, and his OPS ended up at .519. In fairness, Tejada had much better numbers in 2012, when he hit .289 with a .333 OBP. One of Tejada’s main problems is that for a player with no power or speed, he does not walk often. He has 99 career walks in 1216 career plate appearances, for a walk percentage of 8%. Terry Collins seemed to become annoyed with Tejada’s tendency to pop out, imploring the shortstop to try to hit the ball on the ground more often. However, the message did not seem to sink in. While he was with Las Vegas in 2013, Tejada’s numbers were somewhat better. In 240 AAA at-bats, Tejada hit .288 with a .337 OBP. However, his walk percentage was not adequate, with 14 free passes for a walk percentage of 6%.

How He Did In The Field:

Tejada has been billed as solid defensive shortstop. However, he struggled in the field in 2013, posting a major league fielding percentage of .969, which ranked him 42nd among 65 players to play the position last year. Notably, Tejada went through a phase in April when he was not fielding well, capped by some dreadful games in the cold weather of Colorado. Many of Tejada’s miscues seemed to result from a lack of focus, which drew the ire of his manager and his organization. His work in the field likely contributed to the decision to assign him to AAA when he was ready to play after his injury in May.

Areas To Improve Upon:

Tejada has many opportunities for improvement. He needs to improve his OBP, as that needs to be his offensive game. As mentioned earlier, Tejada will never hit for significant power, nor will he provide speed to the lineup. Therefore, he needs to put the bat on the ball with more consistency, and get on base to make a contribution to the offense. His defense last year may have been an anomaly, as he does possess a strong throwing arm, and has traditionally been a solid defender. Tejada has also been accused of being “lazy” by his manager (on multiple occasions). That may be perception or reality. Regardless, if that’s the organizational feeling, it needs to change. Only Tejada can change it through hard work. Sandy Alderson said last year that getting Tejada to do additional work was like “pulling teeth”. That is not a good thing.

Projected Role In 2014:

Alderson stated that Tejada was not part of the core going forward. Alderson does not mince words, so the smart money is on Tejada’s wearing another uniform in 2014. Even if he remains with the Mets, the buzz around the team is that finding a shortstop from outside the organization is a priority for 2014. Therefore, Tejada may be in AAA as depth for the shortstop position, or on the major league squad as a utility infielder. Tejada is still young at 23, so discarding him from the organization may be premature in some people’s minds. However, based on his inconsistent production and limited ceiling as a player, Ruben Tejada will most likely not have a starting role with the 2014 New York Mets.

Contract Status And Trade Rumors:

Tejada is arbitration eligible after the 2014 season, and can be a free agent after the 2017 season. While his name has not surfaced in specific trade rumors, his being dealt this off season is a possibility.

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