New York Mets: Is Ruben Tejada a Legitimate .300 Hitter?

Mike GrofsickContributor IIIMay 8, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23:  Ruben Tejada #11 of the New York Mets rounds third base to score a second inning run against the San Francisco Giants at Citi Field on April 23, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Ruben Tejada is getting off to a fast start in replacing Jose Reyes. Before getting injured on Sunday, Tejada was hitting .305, and he's still tied for third in the NL with 10 doubles.

Tejada was always considered to be a defensive shortstop, and any offense that the Mets got out of him would just be a bonus. He was supposed to be plugged into the eight-hole in the lineup this year and remain there. Well, that didn't last long.

Due mainly to the injury to Torres, Tejada batted leadoff in just the second game of the year. While that first game didn't go great, the rest went pretty well. In 57 ABs in the leadoff spot, Tejada hit .298 with six runs scored.

When the Mets tried to switch up the lineup and put Nieuwenhuis in the leadoff spot instead of going back down to number eight, Tejada was given a shot at the two-hole. That worked out equally well. In 38 ABs, Tejada hit .289, again with six runs scored.

Tejada, this year, has reminded me of David Wright early in his career, because he has been hammering lefties and has been able to maintain a decent average against righties. So far, Tejada has hit .409 against lefties and .230 against righties.

Using Wright as an example, I could see Tejada being around is in 2008, when David hit .382 off lefties and .275 off righties to combine for a .302 average. That is the type of hitter I see Tejada being.

One thing that Tejada does need to do—and this will come with time and experience—is cut down on his strikeouts. In order to be a good-average hitter, you need to put the ball in play at a high percentage. Before getting hurt, Tejada had 24 strikeouts, which is too high for him. 

That very well could just be attributed to him still being young and learning the pitching in the major leagues. The Mets have also seen some very good starting pitching to begin the year.

If I had to guess, I would say that Tejada will hit .300 within the next three years. So to answer the question of whether or not Tejada is a legitimate .300 hitter, I would say that there is definitely the potential for him to be.