(Sorry for the delay in posting this.)
It’s season preview time! Each Saturday I will analyze each position, lookinHpog at the quality, as well as the depth of the Met roster, and how players at each position could perform this season. Enjoy.
Ruben Tejada has some huge shoes to fill this year.
After “The Traitor,” “The Benedict Arnold of Baseball,” “The Miami Moron,” “LeBron Reyes” (Wow, that’s cheesy) — whatever you want to call him left, Ruben Tejada emerged as the future of the shortstop position for the Mets.
Tejada, 22, stepped up last year in a big way, hitting .284 while also continuing to impress in the field. He also drove in 36 runs and hit 15 doubles in his second season in the big leagues, at just 21.
Tejada displayed natural baseball instincts like few young players have. He is smooth in the field and a hard worker with his bat. The progression he has made both with his bat and with his glove is astonishing, especially for a 21 year-old. I’m going to take an extra step with Tejada and say that he has the ability to be a star.
No, Tejada will never, ever fill the shoes of Jose Reyes, and no one should expect him to. He doesn’t have the electric speed, or that energy that lights up a dugout and propels the team to a win. However, he is a natural baseball player. His work ethic and maturity for a guy so young are great. After struggling with the bat in 2010, hitting a meager .213 in his rookie year. Ruben began the 2011 campaign in Buffalo, and worked harder than ever. His hard work paid off. Tejada raised his average 71 points in a breakout 2011 season with the Mets. If he keeps improving at this rate, he could eventually be a .300 hitter.
In the field, Tejada has impressed from day one. It was what got him to the majors and it is what will elevate his status as a big leaguer. He has the smoothness in the field, as I mentioned earlier, as well as an arm that can turn any double play.
There is no true backup on the Mets current roster that will fill the void if Tejada goes down with an injury. However, down on the farm, Jordany Valdespin, a 24 year-old middle infielder, has been nothing but impressive recently. Valdespin displayed speed and power in the minors, hitting 17 home runs and stealing 37 bases between Binghamton and Buffalo. The issue with him has been maturity, though, so the Mets may hesitate to thrust him into a big role.
Overall Grade: C+
No one can overlook Ruben Tejada’s potential. He is just a natural baseball player. He will continue to amaze people will his glove, and hopefully eventually with his glove, for years to come.
Come back on Saturday when I preview the third base position!