Rising Apple Player of the Week: Ruben Tejada

By Matt Musico

The Rising Apple staff chooses one player to highlight on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If  you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.

All of the staff was in agreement that this was a horrendous week to choose a player that had a standout performance, but Ruben Tejada earned the most votes from our writers. Tejada has done so many things for the Mets lineup since his return from the disabled list. Terry Collins said multiple times that they missed Ruben’s glove in the field, but what he can do with the bat has been underrated in 2012 and they dearly needed it. In the six games since returning from the All-Star break, Tejada has been held hitless only once, yet has hit a pedestrian .285 during that time, including three multi-hit games.

Although his season average has dropped from .327 to .319 since the break, he’s been one of the few hitters in the lineup that has been putting together quality at-bat after quality at-bat, even throughout their most recent losing streak. What’s the best proof of this? Well, when he’s been ahead in the count this

season, Ruben is hitting .295/.413/.377 with 13 walks. That makes sense, right? Hang on to your hats, then; when Tejada gets behind in the count, he’s actually been better, as he’s hitting .313/.324/.388 in 2012. I don’t know about you, but I find that stat absurd.

At such a young age, we’ve been able to see the maturation of Ruben into a solid Major League hitter, and someone who should be the Mets’ permanent leadoff hitter. Out of all the everyday position players, his .368 OBP only trails David Wright‘s .443, but everyone on the Mets seems to be looking up to him in the stats game these days. Tejada doesn’t steal bases (1 SB in 2 chances), but the overriding quality I want to have in my leadoff hitter is one who can get on base. It seems as if he’s always doing that in some way, shape or form, and the ability he has to hit better behind in the helps in more ways than one. As a leadoff hitter, it’s common to be patient and show the rest of the team what a pitcher can do with his pitches on that particular night. Not only can Tejada do that on a nightly basis for his team, he can then get on base to set the table for the big hitters in the meat of the order.

Not to go unnoticed, Tejada’s defense has been fantastic all year, with a couple of webgems and top plays appearing on Baseball Tonight and Sportscenter, respectively. Even though he didn’t have a huge statistical week, he did all the little things right that a manager wants to see. When a team is on a losing streak and not performing well, you love to see that example being made by your starting shortstop. Congratulations, Ruben!

Honorable Mentions: This was a tight vote this week, with all that were mentioned having a case. Jordany Valdespin‘s name was thrown around, as he hit his third pinch hit home run this year, second off a good NL East closer. We took our vote mostly before David Wright enjoyed his two-homer, five-RBI day. Also earning some honorable mentions was Terry Collins for dealing with the media and handling his players through this rough patch, and Jason Bay for making contact, and pouring gravy on top with a home run in a clutch spot.