New York Mets News

Ruben Tejada: Sabermetrics vs. Eye Evaluation

By Rich Sparago

Spring training is rapidly coming to a close, and the Mets have yet to resolve their shortstop situation. If the season were to start tomorrow, Ruben Tejada would get the nod as the starter. The problem with this is that Tejada is coming off a terrible season (.202/.259/.260), and has more errors than hits thus far in spring training. To date, Sandy Alderson has not been able to import a shortstop. Therefore, the debate has begun about the merits of beginning the season with Tejada.

Feb 26, 2014; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) poses during media day at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

The analysis of Ruben Tejada is very different depending upon the school of thought to which one subscribes. There’s the “new” way evaluating players, using advanced, or Sabermetric, statistics. Using this methodology, a case can be made that Tejada may succeed in 2014. He had a line-drive percentage of 22.5%, 25.7%, and 30% in 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) was .331 in 2011 and .339 in 2012. Putting these statistics together, one can surmise that Tejada has hit the ball hard in his career, resulting in a respectable rate of finding holes when he makes contact. In addition, Tejada has made contact with 86% of pitches he’s swung at over his career, showing good plate discipline. These are just a few of the more common Sabermetric statistics, but they do paint a fairly optimistic picture of Ruben Tejada.

Then there’s the “old” way of evaluating players, eye evaluation. This is the methodology of observing a player, and evaluating him across five basic parameters (hitting, hitting with power, running, throwing, and fielding). This type of analysis yields a different profile of Ruben Tejada. Simply put, Tejada has hit inconsistently over his career, has no power, has no speed, has a slightly above average throwing arm, and profiles as an average fielder. In this school of thought, Tejada likely over-achieved in his good 2012 season (.289/.333/.351). Given that he projects as having limited baseball skills, it’s hard to fathom that Tejada can come close the replicating his 2012 statistics.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to evaluate a player. Many use a combination of Sabermetric statistics and eye evaluation to develop a more complete image. However, it’s rare that a player will look so starkly different using two evaluation methodologies. Which Ruben Tejada will show up in 2014? If Sandy Alderson can make a deal, the question may be rendered moot. However, if there is no trade, this will be interesting to watch.

Which analysis do you think best predicts the 2014 of Ruben Tejada?

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