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Is Ruben Tejada the Mets' long-term answer at shortstop?

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Rick Yeatts

Beyond the Box Score's Bryan Grosnick penned a piece on Mets' shortstop Ruben Tejada earlier for Amazin Avenue, saying not exactly bad things, but not exactly good things either:

But while Tejada lacks big-time projection, he also lacks big-time flaws. I'd venture to say that while his ceiling isn't so high, his floor is. Ruben's 2011 and 2012 proved that, if a few things don't break exactly right, he still provides league-average value at a critical position for bargain-basement cost.

The fact that his bat is playing at something close to league-average at the age of 22 speaks to his ability to be a starting-caliber player, long-term.

This article presents me with quite the predicament, as I actually agree with what Bryan said, despite my desperate need to disagree with every single word that comes out of his mouth.

My only disagreement with this article is a minor one, because I think that Ruben is a better fielder than the metrics would suggest. He has good instincts at the position and should continue to get better, and I expect him to be at worst an average player there over the next few years.

Bryan also points out his decreased walk rate, which is also something I noticed as well. Ruben swung at 31.3% of pitches outside the strikezone in 2012 (per Fangraphs), which is nearly 2% higher than his career O-Swing% of 29.5%. I would guess that one reason for this is the time that he spent in the leadoff spot, as many hitters feel that they have to be "spark plugs," and are more aggressive.

This is a response post, so I will choose now to respond to Bryan's initial question:

What do the Mets have in Ruben Tejada?

Here are some of my answers in bullet-point form:

  • Not only the greatest Mets player ever, but possibly the greatest baseball player ever, period.
  • An iconic figure in both the sports and pop culture world, after he releases the MVP Shuffle after winning the award for the next 7 seasons.
  • The answer to World peace.
  • A shortstop who is cost-controlled for the next few years, providing good OBPs and average-ish defense at a position where both are hard to come by.

So what do you guys think? What is Ruben Tejada?