New York Mets News

Ruben Tejada: Proceed with caution

By Rich Sparago

Going into the 2014 season, one of the positions the Mets seemed intent on upgrading was shortstop. This was with good reason, as incumbent Ruben Tejada was coming off of a season in which he posted a triple slash of .202/.259/.260. The Mets did not obtain external help at shortstop, and Tejada has been better thus far in 2014 (.237/.353/.294). Recently, Tejada has been on a good streak; going into action on July 13th having hit .299 with a .401 OBP over his previous 22 games.

Jul 1, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada (11) celebrates a play after the eighth inning of their game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Mets 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The talk of the need to upgrade shortstop has quieted, and Mets fans have seemingly warmed to Tejada in the last month or so. However, this is a cautionary tale. Let’s take a look at why.

First, Tejada’s OBP is good enough for 3rd among shortstops with more than 200 at-bats in the major leagues. That’s the good news. Looking at his numbers a little further, we see that his OPS, widely regarded as a key offensive statistic, ranks 22nd among 29 shortstops with 200 ABs. His .237 average ranks 23rd in the same class of shortstops. His 2 home runs rank 27th, and his 1 stolen base also ranks 27th. Finally, his fWAR is 0.7. For context, a WAR of 1-2 ranks as a “role player”. The term used for a WAR less than 1 is not kind, but WAR rankings can be found here.

Tejada’s OBP is clearly inflated by his 40 walks. While taking a walk is a good thing, 8 of his walks are intentional. It’s fair to assume that at least 20% of the remaining walks come from “pitch around” situations, where the opposing pitcher pitched around Tejada to get to the pitcher, who generally bats behind him.

So what’s the message? As far as I’m concerned, Ruben Tejada is having a better year, and is to be commended for this. However, even with his improved performance, the numbers above suggest that he’s likely a below average contributor at shortstop. If the Mets can improve the position via trade, they should consider that. Tejada would have a role on the club as a utility infielder (if a trade were made for a stronger offensive shortstop).

How do you feel about Ruben Tejada at shortstop?