Let Ruben Tejada Be Ruben Tejada, Whatever That Is
Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger had a good read this morning on Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. In it he points out that Tejada should simply focus his game on getting on base. He compares Tejada to Jose Reyes at the same age.
Compared with his predecessor, Tejada is smaller, slower, more placid, a possessor of a more down-tuned personality. But he remains, as hitting coach Dave Hudgens said earlier this spring, “a good solid player.” His instincts are advanced, and his fielding is solid. His swing is compact.
In 96 games last season, Tejada impressed his front office by embracing their offensive philosophy and cobbling together a .360 on-base percentage. When Reyes was 21, he played just 53 big-league games and posted a measly .271 on-base percentage. That statistical comparison, of course, does not mean team officials expect Tejada to out-perform Reyes this season. But they understand the asset they have.
“I really concentrated last year on taking my pitch and trying to hit the ball to middle every time,” Tejada said. “For me, that was the key.”
In McCullough’s article, Dave Hudgens is also quoted as saying that he hopes Tejada can become “a player like Phillies infielder Placido Polanco.” If Tejada could ultimately mirror the career of a player like Polanco, I think we’d all be very happy with that.
There’s a lot of comparisons being made to Tejada ever since Jose Reyes joined the Marlins. Most of these comparisons seem unfair and in some cases unwarranted as well.
Two weeks ago, I saw a couple of our readers comparing Ruben Tejada to former Met and three-time Gold Glover, Rey Ordonez. Sorry, but I just don’t see that and I have to wonder if some fans forgot just how special Rey Ordonez was.
Defensively, Ordonez was much flashier, had greater range, and he possessed the best instincts I ever saw in a shortstop – and he had the arm to go with it.
In addition to his spectacular plays, Ordonez always made the routine plays effortlessly and in fact he set the Major League record for shortstops by playing 101 consecutive games without committing an error. Think about that for a minute. Ordonez was absolutely sublime.
Tejada has made some flashy defensive plays at shortstop and he seems to have that Derek Jeter jump-throw down pat, but I’ve also seen Tejada muff far too many routine plays to dare mention him in the same breath as Ordonez. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that Tejada won’t improve or get better, but lets hold off on the Ordonez comparisons until that happens.
Look… Here’s the way I see it… Ruben Tejada is not Jose Reyes, or Placido Polanco, or Rey Ordonez. Tejada is simply a 22-year old shortstop that was never a highly regarded prospect, who is being asked to step into the shoes of a giant.
Time will tell how Tejada handles that, but if I were able to give him some good advice, I’d tell him to simply focus on being Ruben Tejada – whatever that ends up being. And as for us Mets fans, lets simply see how this season plays out for Tejada, after which we’ll learn if he is indeed our shortstop of the future or merely the shortstop of the present.
About the Author: Joe DeCaro
I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.
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