2012 Postmortem: A position-by-position look back at the season with some preliminary thoughts on 2013. Plate appearances, OPS, and fWAR for each player represent statistics posted at all positions, not just the position in review. OPS is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage. fWAR is FanGraphs wins above replacement -- read more about it here.
Links to positions previously covered:
This was the first season since 2002 that Jose Reyes did not play an inning at shortstop for the Mets. Thanks to Ruben Tejada and overachieving backups Ronny Cedeno and Omar Quintanilla, the Mets received respectable overall production from the premium position.
Tejada drew the ire of Terry Collins in February for not showing up to spring training early. It was an unfortunate episode; Tejada didn't really do anything wrong. At the least, it should have been kept behind closed doors. Amazin' Avenue was lucky enough to obtain a transcript of Collins' and Tejada's meeting upon the latter's arrival in Port St. Lucie.
The spring training kerfuffle didn't appear to faze "Muscles" Tejada, as he is known around here. He played well in April and May, both offensively and defensively. He was hitting a robust .302/.362/.400 on May 6th while playing nearly every game. It was on May 6th that he strained his right quadriceps after falling on his face running to first base after dropping down a bunt. He went on the DL and missed about six weeks. Unfortunately, Tejada didn't hit nearly as well after returning from injury.
Even with his lone home run of the season, a solo shot in San Francisco in August, Tejada's slash line post-injury was just .284/.325/.337 in 384 plate appearances. His walk rate was a poor 4.9% during this stretch and was 5.4% for the season. Compare to his formerly encouraging pre-2012 big-league walk rate of 9.0%. His defense did not appear to suffer after returning from injury, however, and I would rate his full-season defense as slightly above average.
Tejada was 22 years old this season and his overall performance was superior to Reyes's during his respective 22-year-old season. This isn't to say Tejada projects to be anything resembling Reyes; he doesn't. But Tejada is an average major leaguer right now, and given his age it's sensible to think he will improve. His lack of speed hurts his value, as does his anemic power. I'm more optimistic about him improving in the power department; perhaps he can eat some steak, take his vitamins, and smack more doubles. I wouldn't put his ceiling very high but maybe a 4 WAR season seems like a reasonable peak somewhere down the road.
Cedeno signed a one-year deal for $1.2 million last offseason to be the backup shortstop. He had a career 69 OPS+ at the time but was also known for his solid defense. He lived up to his defensive reputation but blew past any reasonable offensive expectations, hitting .259/.332/.410 with four home runs. His walk rate skyrocketed and his power kicked up a notch as well. His .741 OPS was fifth-best on the Mets, behind David Wright, Scott Hairston, Mike Baxter, and Ike Davis. Perhaps Cedeno benefited from time spent with Dave Hudgens. If only some younger Mets hitters could have improved as Cedeno did.
It has been reported that free agent Cedeno will seek out a starting job somewhere. Good for him if he can find the work. Starter or not, it seems like he'll cost more than another $1.2 million deal, meaning that -- what's that refrain? -- the Mets probably won't be able to afford him.
Thirty-year-old former first round draft pick Quintanilla was called up in late May when Justin Turner hit the DL. Quesadilla played well, posting a .721 OPS in 80 plate appearances without embarrassing himself defensively. The highlight of his time with the Mets was probably a solo home run off Phil Hughes at Yankee Stadium on June 9th. He was traded to the Orioles in July for cash and hit three home runs for the O's during their memorable playoff run. Quintanilla did not play in the postseason. Fans will likely speak well of his time in Flushing, if they speak of it at all.
I mentioned in the second base postmortem a desire to somehow bring back Reyes via trade. That didn't seem plausible, even before Reyes was dealt to the Blue Jays. So the payroll-friendly Tejada it is in 2013.
Projected 2013 starting shortstop: Ruben Tejada