December 7,2011 was a sad day as a Mets fan. That day signified an end to the Jose Reyes era in New York. No matter what people thought about the contract Reyes was given, or his propensity to get injured; he was a lifelong Met who had been the Mets best player in recent years. With Reyes’s exit came a hole in the leadoff spot in the batting order and at shortstop.
There is a lack of shortstops and game-changing players in baseball. The Mets lost both with the departure of the smiling, excitable Reyes. Ruben Tejada was called upon to fill the role of starting shortstop and lead-off hitter. Tejada doesn’t have the speed, arm or power of Reyes, but he has managed to play as well if not better than Jose Reyes to this point in the 2012 season Tejada has a 1.8 WAR compared to Reyes 1.7 WAR according to baseballrefrence.com.
Tejada doesn’t wow you with stolen bases, triples or flashy plays. He wows you with his consistency in all aspects of the game. Tejada has been a consistent singles hitter with a .323 BA and a .370 OBP. He has done this at a position where any hitting is extremely valued. He has had this success even while having dealt with an extended stint on the disabled list. Tejada has shown he can hit for 30 doubles a year, which nobody thought was possible when he was coming through the Mets farm system.
Tejada’s longevity at shortstop had also been questioned in the past based on his lack of elite athleticism. At shortstop he has been above average according to fielding metrics. Aside from an errant throw here and there, Tejada has shown he is at shortstop to stay.
Tejada is currently on an 11 game hitting streak and has not shown any signs of slowing down this season. With a strong end to the season Tejada can go into the off-season, with a lot of confidence. What makes Tejada’s emergence exciting for the Mets and their fans is the prospect of having Tejada under team control until 2017, and his ability to improve at only age 22.
Tejada has done the near impossible of allowing one of the great ones to fade in Mets fans minds. Tejada will never be the same kind of talent as Reyes but Ruben is carving out a niche where he can flourish for years to come.