Around this time last year, there was an abundance of optimistic posts written about Ruben Tejada. The posts were generally focused on his age, on-base percentage, and his average to above-average defense. While his age and defense are undeniable, his on-base percentage or, more specifically, his walk rate, may not have been something to get so excited about.
Coming into the 2012 season, Tejada had walked in 57 of his 631 major league plate appearances. That translates to a 9.0% walk rate, which was slightly above league average. In 2012, that walk rate dipped to 5.4%, significantly below league average. As I watched this unfold over the course of the season, I kept waiting for his patience to return and lift that walk rate back to his career average. It never happened. Why?
The answer is somewhat discouraging for those hoping to see Tejada bounce back in 2013. In 2010, Tejada had 199 plate appearances batting 8th, and 48 appearances outside of the 8 hole. Batting 8th he posted a 10.1% walk rate. Batting elsewhere, he walked at a 4.2% clip. In 2011, he had 221 plate appearances batting 8th, posting an 11.8% walk rate. Yet, his 140 plate appearances in other batting slots yielded a 6.4% walk rate. Tejada's walk rate clearly benefited from batting in front of the pitcher for the majority of his plate appearances in 2010-2011.
What happened in 2012? Tejada batted 8th just 7 times, walking twice. He had 459 at-bats in other slots, mostly 1st or 2nd, posting a 5.4% walk rate. Given that he was posting a 5.9% walk rate batting outside of the 8 hole leading up to 2012, this is about what we could have reasonably expected Tejada to do.
This is not to say that the Mets need to start shopping for a shortstop. Tejada is young, plays average to above-average defense and makes above average contact. We should just temper our expectations for his on-base percentage as the Mets approach the 2013 season.
All stat courtesy Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.