The New York Mets looked forward to 2013 being a stepping stone year toward contention in the near future. Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada, and David Wright were scheduled to enforce a potentially elite offensive infield, and all signs pointed to that statement being supported as Ruben Tejada took Stephen Strasburg deep during his first spring training plate appearance.
If one were able to split Tejada’s season into two parts, his first plate appearance would be the successful half. His results have been depressing ever since.
Tejada posted a .209/.267/.262 clip in 204 plate appearances this year before being placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 29th after an errant slide led to a quadricep injury. Omar Quintanilla replaced the Panama native and hasn’t looked back, posting a .246/..319/.359 line in 161 plate appearance. Tejada has now found himself struggling to put anything together in Las Vegas after being optioned following his rehab assignment.
Tejada has a wretched .189/.279/.243 clip through his first 37 ABs in Vegas. While 37 ABs is truly a small sample size, his continued struggles are worrisome for the future of the organization. Quintanilla has filled in beautifully for the 23-year-old, but nobody is ready to appoint the 31-year-old as the future of the Mets organization. He has filled in admirably and has been the definition of replacement level player with a 0.0 bWAR (Although FanGraphs values him slightly higher at 0.3 fWAR).
Tejada is in the unenviable position of needing to earn his starting role back in the major leagues. For him to even reach the major league level once again he’ll need to have a sustained period of success in Vegas, which means he may not be back in Flushing until August or September.
The team has performed well in Tejada’s absence, but that’s not to say he was the problem. A healthy and productive Tejada is much more valuable to the club than Quintanilla’s and the sooner the Mets can find that shortstop, the better the organizational outlook will become.
Photo Credit: Michael Baron