After nine great years, Jose Reyes has finally moved on from the New York Mets. While I, like most, was sad to see him go, I’m ready to stop focusing on who won’t be with the team in 2012 and appreciate who will be. I don’t blame Reyes for leaving, there is a business side to professional baseball and from that standpoint the Mets made his decision easy. As a fan of the New York Mets, much more so than Jose Reyes, I need a new outlet for my devotion.
What better place to start than with a talented 22-year-old infielder that lit up the highlight reels day after day in the field while learning (on the job I might add) how to become a big league hitter. That player is Ruben Tejada, the young man most seem confident will take over at short for New York this season. He is not Jose Reyes, nobody will ever mistake the two, but he is our shortstop and in my mind, it’s time to appreciate the player he is.
In 2010, as a 20-year-old rookie, Ruben Tejada hit just .213 while striking out once in every 5.68 at-bats and had a .086 walk per plate appearance ratio (BB/PA). In 2011, during Ruben’s sophomore campaign, he managed to put up an impressive .284 batting average and cut down on his strikeouts (1 per every 6.6 AB’s) while walking a little more (.093 BB/PA ratio).
I know I know, nothing to make you forget about Jose Reyes, but plate discipline is key in the development of a young player and 2011 was a small step in the right direction for Tejada. Tejada saw more pitches per at-bat in 2011 than he did in 2010 and who can forget this kid turning an 0-2 count to a 16-pitch at-bat that ended up in a walk back in late May?
Still not finding any hope in Ruben’s future? Well, let’s flip the field and scroll through the dozens of highlights on MLB.com for a video collection of Ruben’s finer defensive moments in 2011. As T.O. once said, “get your popcorn ready.”
Let’s start with the arm:
How about his range into foul territory:
His range into shallow center:
Need to see some ups?
How about a healthy demonstration of baseball IQ:
Ironically, this play may have helped Jose Reyes win the batting title:
But it’s all just another day in the field for Tejada:
You don’t need advanced statistics to see how special Tejada is in the field, but if you wanted them, Mark Simon of ESPN New York delivered:
Newest Mets everyday shortstop Ruben Tejada doesn’t hit or run like Reyes, but his defensive work rates higher statistically in one notable area.
A fielder gets credit for an Out of Zone play when he gets an out on a ball fielded in a spot in which fewer than 50 percent of players at his position recorded an out within that 365-day period.
In 353 innings at shortstop, Tejada was credited with 24 Out of Zone plays. That’s a significant number.
Tejada’s rate of one Out of Zone play for every 14.7 innings played ranked best among all major league shortstops that played at least 350 innings at the position last season.“
It’s a fancy way to explain what you see in the videos above, Ruben Tejada, as Simon says, is a defensive whiz. He’s also likely to be the starting shortstop for my favorite baseball team next season, the New York Mets. So while Jose has left, Ruben is just fully arriving on the scene and I, for one, intend to appreciate the player on the field wearing the blue and orange in 2012.
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