I tried to fool people with a Twitter poll based on this but most people were on to my trick: I plugged Ruben Tejada’s 2011 stats in Buffalo and with the Mets into the ol’ Minor League Equivalency calculator then added them up to see how he would have performed if he spent the whole season at Double-A Binghamton.
Obviously it’s not a perfect way to determine what would have actually happened, but Tejada’s Triple-A and Major League stats translate to a .338/.424/.426 line in over 500 at-bats at Binghamton. And Tejada would have been the youngest player on the team.
Remember that: Ruben Tejada would have been the youngest player on the Mets’ Double-A team last year. He’s seven months younger than Matt Harvey and Juan Lagares, more than two years younger than Matt den Dekker, and two weeks younger than Jeurys Familia.
Tejada’s one year and 10 months younger than Jordany Valdespin, who caught the eyes of many Mets fans with his .297/.341/.483 line at Binghamton in 2011.
Hak-Ju Lee, a shortstop in the Rays system that ranked No. 44 on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list, is a year younger than Tejada. In his Double-A debut in 2011, he hit .190/.272/.310 in 100 at-bats. Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, a month and a half older than Tejada, hit .311/.351/.408 in High A ball last year and ranked No. 92 on the same list.
An .850 OPS would have put Tejada 19th among Eastern League players with at least 141 at-bats at the level in 2011. But of the 18 players ahead, all but four played primarily in corner positions and only one — Blue Jays catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud — is less than a full year older than Tejada. And d’Arnaud, born Feb. 8, 1989, is 10 months older than the Mets’ shortstop.
Point is, Ruben Tejada is very, very young. A variety of circumstances forced him through the Mets’ system quickly and into the big leagues in 2010 and 2011, but I suspect many Mets fans would be more psyched about him if he were a 22-year-old shortstop that tore up the Eastern League last year and they’d never seen play instead of a 22-year-old shortstop that performed adequately in the Majors for most of 2011.
So the other point is that many people overvalue prospects, which you probably know. What Tejada did in the Majors at 21 in 2011 is rare and impressive. It’s not a guarantee that he’ll turn out a big-league All-Star or even a capable regular, but it’s a very nice start.