Have the Mets Replacement Shortstops Been Better Than Jose Reyes?

By Unknown author

The day Jose Reyes officially became a member of the Miami Marlins, I felt a strange, previously unknown type of panic. In my almost twenty-five years of die-hard Mets fandom, I had never truly witnessed the Mets let such a pivotal–and homegrown–player depart, especially to a rival. The mere idea of replacing the stoic Reyes with the very green Ruben Tejada seemed almost, dare I say, stupid. But now mid-way through the first Reyes-less Mets season since 2002, it’s possible my pre-season nightmare has faded. With the Mets sitting at a very competitive second place in the NL East, the absence of Jose Reyes must prompt the question, “Have the Mets missed Jose Reyes?”

No matter how you look at it, Jose Reyes did not have a good statistical first half to his 2012 season. Yes, his 10.4% BB% is his best career rate (with more than 300 PA’s), but literally all of his other statistics are more or less career-worsts. The 29 year-old is on-pace to hit four homeruns, and his .114 ISO is his worst showing since 2005. Even though UZR/150 has never been kind to Reyes (this will be his fourth straight year in the negative), his -6.6 UZR/150 is by far his worst. Most people knew the the then-career .286 hitter overachieved in 2011 when he hit .337, but in 2012, he has slumped to a pedestrian .271 BA. Despite enjoying a fruitful June, swatting a .283/.350/.472 line, the speedster only swiped three bases during that time period. Between his unimpressive offense and even less so defense, Reyes’ fWAR is currently just 1.4. To give you an idea of what kind of company he’s in, Reyes is wedged between Jamey Carroll (1.5 fWAR) and J.J. Hardy(1.3 fWAR). Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Reyes’ season so far is that he hasn’t gotten injured.

In terms of the Reyes-replacements, the Mets have done a pretty good job of filling his shoes. Despite missing most of May and June with a freak injury, Ruben Tejada has looked like a bonafide, albeit unflashy, shortstop. The 22 year-old is currently sporting a very good .309/.360/.397 line. While the soft-hitting righty hasn’t parked a homerun yet, his fifteen doubles are only five less than Jose Reyes’. Mind you, that’s with 195 less plate appearances. Tejada’s 0.3 UZR/150 doesn’t scream “Gold Glove,” but at least it’s in the positive. Overall, Tejada owns a 0.9 fWAR for the season.

But let’s not forget about Ronny Cedeno and Omar Quintanilla, the two guys who filled in for Tejada while he was on the disabled list. Cedeno has been a bit of a surprise for the Mets–in a not so great way–posting his best BB% (12.2%), but not contributing much on the defensive side of things (-3.4 UZR/150 at shortstop). His lack of defense is a mystery, as it is supposedly his only commodity. Cedeno’s cumulative 0.4 fWAR seems forgettable, but for just 90 PA’s, his contributions have actually been, overall, worthwhile. In the more “positive” surprising world, Omar Quintanilla filled in brilliantly while both Tejada and Cedeno fell ill to injury. Known more as Colorado Rockies Minor League fodder, Quintanilla mashed in Triple-A for the Mets (.282/.345/.494 line in 172 PA’s), and continued to do so in Flushing (.257/.350/.371 line in 80 PA’s). In addition to getting on-base (10.0% BB%) and scoring runs (13 Runs), the 30 year-old infielder also gloved a magnificent 13.9 UZR/150 in 187 innings at shortstop–which ain’t bad for a third-stringer. Between his offense and defense, Quintanilla has been worth a respectable 0.7 fWAR.

All together, between Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno, and Omar Quintanilla, the replacements have collectively been worth 2.0 fWAR. Sure, it would be great to have Jose Reyes atop the lineup this season, but considering his half-season fWAR stands at just 1.4, it seems as though the Mets have done just fine without him.