When shortstop Jose Reyes took his talents to South Beach, he left heavy shoes for Ruben Tejada to fill. Since he arrived in the majors, Reyes was the engine that made the Mets offense go, and with his departure left an enormous question mark at the top of the lineup.
But Tejada has filled in nicely thus far, and looks to be coming into his own. During his first two years in the big leagues, Tejada spent the majority of his time connected to Reyes at the hip, soaking up all the information that he could.
While he doesn't possess the speed that Reyes does, he's much more patient at the plate than the former Met. He works counts and doesn't strike out often, which are great qualities for a leadoff hitter.
He has also been driving the ball much better than in years past, and through 10 games has six doubles, a little less than half the amount he had all of last year.
Tejada's glove may be the best part about his game. While rotating between shortstop and second base last year, Tejada recorded just 12 errors. Look for that number to go down in 2012 as he will be able to put his complete focus on just playing shortstop this year.
Tejada doesn't have to be Reyes to be successful. The Mets need stability at the top of the lineup to give the big bats the opportunity to drive in runs, and Tejada has the tools to get the job done.
Projections for 2012: .285 BA, .368 OBP, 2 HR, 43 RBI