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Opinion: Miguel Tejada Has Been Better Than Expected


When the Kansas City Royals’ General Manager Dayton Moore signed Miguel Tejadaon New Year’s Eve of last year, there didn’t seem to be much point. Why did Moore insist on signing utility infielders the team really didn’t need? Did the Royals need a soon-to-be 39-year old infielder who was out of baseball in 2012?

Jul 30, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals second baseman Miguel Tejada (24) hits a single in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off the memory of Moore resigning Yuniesky Betancourt the year before, Tejada’s signing seemed like another desperate grasp for non existent straws. Even thought the initial deal was a minor league contract, it seemed obvious from the start that Moore wanted Tejada on the major league roster. Tejada was due to make $1.1 million if he made the team, even though the Royals had much cheaper options available.

Personally, I didn’t think much about the deal. I saw it as just another dart Moore was blinding throwing, hoping it would hit the board. I hoped Tejada wouldn’t play much but considering who the Royals had at second, the chances were that Tejada would probably play more than most have us hoped.

During the first two months of the season, Tejada was used sparingly and he produced when he played. In April, May, and the first six days in June, he played in 18 games and had a slash of .286/.333/.452/.786 in just 45 plate appearances. He had two home runs and 7 RBI in those PA.

Since June 7, Tejada has played much more. In those two months, he has appeared in 31 games with 110 plate appearances. His slash has slipped some with the increased exposure but not so it just reeks of bad performances – .294/.318/.363/.681. The biggest decline has been in his power as he has just one homer in the past 2 months. Still, these numbers are significantly better than Chris Getz (.209/.280/.281/.561) ans Elliot Johnson (.192/.233/.258/.491 – yuck!)

(Note – This is not an article about Elliot Johnson but something must be pointed out here. Since June 25th, Johnson has just one hit, on July 6th. He is 1-34 in 38 PA. His slash is a miniscule .029/.108/.029/.138. Yes, a .138 OPS! He only has 2 stolen bases in that time so why is he on the team, really?)

Miguel Tejada has played just fine for the Royals, filling the hole at second at least so it isn’t quite so deep. Baseball-Reference.comhas him listed with a .7 WAR (Getz – .1, Johnson – 1.1, which is puzzling, maybe for his runs scored and stolen bases…). Defensively, he has earned a 1.2 UZR so far (Getz – 2.2, Johnson – 1.1). He has had less chances than Getz, so he is not significantly worse.

Aug 2, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Miguel Tejada (24) reacts after hitting a double against the New York Mets to lead off the ninth inning of a game at Citi Field. The Mets defeated the Royals 4-2 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Still, while Tejada is an upgrade at a position that has been a void for most of the season, he is still basically a replacement-type player at the best. An old one at that. If Tejada continues to play as much as he has, his slashes will go down because extra exposure for a 39-year old utility infielder is not a good thing. He is bound to wear out as these last two months unfold if he is used too much.

Tejada has been a much better utility player than I assumed he would be when he was signed, and even after he made the team. He isn’t a butcher at either second or third. He has led by example with his attitude and hustle, and has produced on the field. He has been better than expected so far.

Miguel Tejada is a good piece to a puzzle but he should not be the everyday starter and any position. He fits in perfectly as a right handed bat off the bench, a utility infielder, as a team leader. This is not a knock at the job he is doing right now, championship teams do not start players like Miguel Tejada everyday. Or players like Chris Getz, or Elliot Johnson. Championship teams make moves at the trade deadline to fill vacancies like the Royals have at second.

Moore’s signing of Tejada as a utility infielder was a good one. The former MVP has been better than I expected by a long shot. As a bench player, I have few complaints about his presence. The issue is that he should be the utility infielder and not starting quite so much. I am quite aware that Getz is on the DL, and that he would be starting if healthy. That being said, Tejada is the best choice on this team to start the most games at second. That was not expected, and Moore deserves credit for signing Tejada.

Now, if Moore could only acquire a starting second baseman…