Ruben Tejada; How Do His Critics like Him Now?

By Michael Lecolant

The title gives it away, but play along anyway.

Who am I?

When I was first called up at age twenty, many in the media said I looked completely over-matched.  And one or two people even said I was out of my league.  That was my hello to the Bigs.  I knew New York would be a tough town and that I was called up to fill in for an extremely popular regular who got injured.  This wasn’t exactly the “one man’s injury is another man’s opportunity” situation either.  Not yet.

In seventy-six games, my .213 batting average didn’t exactly change many minds about me.  I wasn’t striking out that much.  Actually, I thought I was showing good selectivity at the plate for being this young.  I thought I managed a fair amount of walks.  I also felt I left the media and fans with food for thought after hitting twelve doubles in 213 at-bats and sporting a capable glove in the field.  But I learned over the winter I hadn’t won anyone over.  After all, I was just filling in.

The following season, I played in ninety-six games.  I increased my batting average over the prior year by seventy-one points.  I hit .284 on the season, and roped fifteen more doubles in eighteen more games played than in my rookie year.  In 328 at-bats, I think I did fairly well to draw thirty-five walks and limit myself to fifty-strikeouts.

Many people lumped my 2010 and 2011 half-seasons together and came up with averages, then drew conclusions about me from that.  Additionally, I don’t think saber-metrics even grow in my country.  Yet people kept feeding on them and judging me.

All I know is this year, I am now the starter at my position.  I’ve played in twenty games so far, which is roughly one-eighth of the season.  I am currently batting .295, but have been over the .300 mark pretty much since the start of the season.  My strikeouts are already high, I know.  But I already smacked eight doubles.  I’m already more than half way to breaking my high from last season.

My name is Ruben Tejada.  Some people haven’t noticed yet, but I’m the starting shortstop for the New York Mets now.  For the last two seasons, the fans have been very supportive of me.  But for the persons who thought I looked over-matched, I simply ask…, How Do You Like Me Now?

Of course that wasn’t Ruben Tejada speaking.  That was me…, your author.  But if I were him, that’s what my narrative would sound like.

Being that we just concluded a weekend series against the Rockies in the nation’s largest pinball machine, I thought we’d have some fun and bounce a few things off the bumpers as well.  Just for fun, let’s smack Ruben Tejada’s 2012 season through the spinner and see how many points we get.

Games  –  160

At-Bats  –  624

AVG.  –  .295

Runs  –  96

Hits  –  184

Doubles  –  64

RBI  –  64

Strikeouts  –  136

Stolen Bases –  8

The numbers are as ponderous as a fly ball in Coors Field – I know.

From the last game of 2011 and throughout the off-season, Ruben Tejada was still being derided by the media as an insufficient replacement for Jose Reyes.  What he has done instead is make Jose Reyes appear a lot smaller in our collective rear view mirrors.

The young, over-matched kid is carving out his own little niche so far.  He’s gone about his business in a very quiet and professional manner.  If not that, then he’s just a good quiet kid.  There are no overt celebrations with him as was the case with the man he replaced.  Additionally, because of his call-ups over the last two seasons, his transition to starter has apparently been a smoother endeavour as a result.  But this was not the summary of a potential Hall of Famer.  This is merely acknowledgment of a player that has done nothing but improve since 2010, and is a player we like, and can move forward with.

In a figurative sense, a literal sense, and in good ‘ol baseball terms – He’s a Good Kid.  We always kind of felt that way – No?  However, what we do know with certainty is the media didn’t always feel that way.  So yeah, how do they like him now?

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