After spending most of the season either injured or in the minor leagues, New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada had a lot to prove in September. Unfortunately for him, a terrible injury cost him a chance to prove himself to the Mets heading into next year. Following Tejada’s injury, is it possible for rookie Wilfredo Tovar to take away his starting job in 2014?
Before making his MLB debut less than a week ago, Tovar had never played above double-A, so outside of his cameo in September, he may not be ready to play in the big leagues full time. However, Tovar is one of the Mets’ top shortstop prospects, and there’s no doubt that he’s ready to play in the majors defensively.
He made great strides at the plate during the second half of the minor league season, so he may be closer to being ready than people think.
He also compares favorably to Tejada in several areas. Tejada struggled defensively during the first two months of the season, and wasn’t as sure-handed as he’s been in the past, while Tovar has plus defensive abilities at shortstop with great instincts and great agility. Tejada also struggled offensively this year, hitting too many pop-ups.
Meanwhile, Tovar seems to understand that he’s not a power threat, and while he’s only played a handful of games, he has consistently hit line drives and ground balls, which play to his strengths as a hitter.
Mets manager Terry Collins insists that Tejada is the best shortstop the Mets have within the organization looking towards next season, but Tovar may not be far behind. Tovar has some developing left to do, and he may not be able to hold up for a full major league season physically because he has such a small frame. However, there are just as many questions about Tejada.
Unless the Mets bring in a shortstop from outside the organization during the offseason, Tejada will come to spring training next year as the starting shortstop. However, Tovar will also be in spring training, and if Tejada struggles, Tovar has a real chance to steal the job.