Ruben Tejada arrived at Mets spring training nine days ahead of the official report date for position players. He successfully avoided Terry Collins' ire. Last year, the Mets manager created an embarrassing situation -- embarrassing for Collins, that is -- by making a big stink about Tejada not reporting to camp early. Tejada's aggressive punctuality this year even caught the attention of notorious hard worker Daniel Murphy (via Adam Rubin):
"Even Ruben Tejada beat me down here," Murphy quipped. "Golly."
Golly indeed. Tejada spent the offseason working out with his predecessor, Jose Reyes. The new Toronto Blue Jay is still missed but Tejada has done a respectable job of giving Mets fans confidence that the shortstop position won't be a major problem for years to come.
Tejada is 23 years old and has about two full seasons of MLB plate appearances. His slash line sits at .271/.336/.331. It's decent for a shortstop; NL shortstops hit .259/.313/.387 in 2012. However, I hesitate to predict that he'll drastically improve at the plate, given his lack of power and drop in walk rate from 2011 to 2012. Maybe give Tejada some non-banned performance-enhancing substances and perhaps he'll hit some more doubles and a random home run now and then. You be the judge if "Muscles" is capable of slugging over .400:
It's reasonable to believe he can become an average to above-average hitter, but his ceiling seems low. Tejada the batter is more Elvis Andrus than Troy Tulowitzki.
There don't appear to be any Gold Gloves in Tejada's future but he's no slouch in the field. My eyes say he's a just-above-average fielder, and the defensive metrics more-or-less concur; the metrics are only marginally less fond of him than I am. He's still young, and there is evidence that shortstops peak defensively between ages 24 and 28, so it's fathomable that we will see Tejada's fielding prowess jump up a notch.
Tejada is an average ballplayer (right now) at a premium position who costs only a pittance. Nothing wrong with that. For 2013, I think he'll rebound a bit in the walks department and double his MLB home run output. He'll play most of the season as long as he can avoid falling on his face while running to first base. Post your Tejada projection in the comments in the same format as below. I'll compare our projections to actual results at season's end.