Enrique Rojas, of ESPN Deportes, is reporting (tweeting) that the Giants have inked Miguel Tejada to a 1-year deal worth $6.5 million.
At first blush it seems like a lot of money to pay for Miguel Tejada. Tejada is coming off a 1.3 WAR (FanGraphs) season that was split between the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres. As a hitter, Tejada posted a slash-line of .269/.312/.381 while hitting 15 home runs. That’s a wOBA of .306 or a wRC+ of 92. There’s a decent chance that Tejeada will be a league average hitter in 2011 — barring collapse or injury.*
* Fun fact: The new CAIRO projections are out and they project Tejada as a .327 wOBA hitter in 2011. Tejada’s projection is based on him playing in Baltimore — meaning that he’s projected in Baltimore’s park and the AL league — so you could probably slightly scale them a little to get a better projection. But, it seems that Tejada is an OK bet to post a wRC+ of 85-95 next year, making him close to a league average hitter.
Tejada is a bit of a hacker — career walk-rate of 6.2% — but he also doesn’t strike out much — career K-rate of 12.8%. His power, once a calling card, has been in a downtrend since 2006. Before the 2006 season, Tejada had a career isolated-power (ISO) of .197 but has since posted ISOs of .168, .146, .131, 142, and .112. From the look of things, it appears that the Giants are going to use Tejada as their shortstop, filling the vacancy left by Juan Uribe’s signing with the Dodgers.
Which brings us to the question of Tejada’s defense at shortstop.
Year DRS UZR Avg 2003 -4.0 -12.0 -8.0 2004 9.0 5.0 7.0 2005 3.0 -4.2 -0.6 2006 -10.0 2.2 -3.9 2007 -5.0 -3.9 -4.5 2008 7.0 10.0 8.5 2009 -16.0 -12.4 -14.2 2010 2.0 0.1 1.1
Above is Tejada’s defensive numbers by plus/minus (DRS) and Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) for each year since 2003. They are for his defensive time spent at short. In addition, I’ve added an quick-and-dirty average column for both DRS and UZR. For the most part, DRS and UZR agree in each year. They are both collected from the same BIS data and are provided from FanGraphs.
Tejada was moved to third base for the 2010 season with the Orioles but he played short for the Padres after his trade. Tejada only played 496.2 innings at shortstop last season. From 2003-2009 he was a full-time starter at SS and averaged approximately 1,300 defensive innings per season. We can’t base much off of a single seasons’ data when it comes to evaluating defense, but from 2003-2010 Tejada was a -14 to a +8 defender at SS. He was absolutely terrible in 2009 (SSS caveats) rating at -16 runs by plus/minus and -12.4 runs by UZR. I can’t recall watching Tejada play defense much that year, but it may have been the reason he shifted to 3B for the Orioles. If we are trying to project his defense for 2011, I think we can safely guess that he’ll playing around -5 runs on defense, given aging and his overall history on defense.
Doing the Math
A quick WAR calculation
Batting Wins Above Average (.320 wOBA, league wOBA .332): –0.7 wins
Defensive Wins Above Average: -0.5 wins
SS Positional Adjustment: +.75 wins
NL Replacement Level: +2.25 wins
= 1.8 wins above replacement * .8 (or 80% playing time ie: 560 PA’s) = +1.44 wins
Tejada is close to being a 1.5 win player for next year. If you don’t like my math — or some of my assumptions — feel free to plug in your own numbers.
Tejada isn’t necessarily a bad signing. He’s obviously not the player he was during his Oakland days, but league average hitters that can play SS well enough (if you consider -5 run defense ‘well enough’) do have some value. For the Giants, losing Juan Uribe to the Dodgers hurts them in the immediate, but I can’t help but feel that Uribe and Tejada aren’t that far off as players. In terms of offense, Uribe and Tejada weren’t that far apart — 92 wRC+ vs. 100 wRC+ — in 2010. Uribe is the better defensive player, but neither is probably going to be a whiz at shortstop. Tejada just can’t be horrible on defense for this deal to work. The $6.5M, the deal seems fair — with the going rate for wins around $4.5M per — even if it seems a tad high. It’s the price you pay when you’re looking for help on the free agent market at a position that’s extremely thin.
However, Tejada’s age — he’ll be 37-years-old next year — is a point for concern. The Giants saw first hand the horrors of age and injuries in Edgar Renteria. If I could give this move a grade, I’d give it a C+ mark. It’s not terribly positive — or even imaginative — but it’s not a black hole of stink, either. And for contending teams you need to avoid black holes of stink. The commitment is for a single year and a 1.5 win player seems like the definition of stop-gap to me.
Comment starter: What do you think?
UPDATE: I sent an email to Dan Szymborski — BBTF, ESPN, ZiPS creator — and asked him if he could give us an updated projection on Tejada now that he’s a Giant. Dan was kind enough to reply with this: “I have Tejada’s new projection as 287/319/411, OPS+ of 92, 143 G, 581 AB, 79 R, 167 H, 34 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 72 RBI, 20 BB, 56 K, 3 SB, 2 CS”. Thanks, Dan!