Miguel Tejada may still latch on with another team after being designated for assignment by the Giants today, but the former MVP looks finished as a quality regular and is definitely finished as a decent shortstop option.
Rather than focus on the terrible hitter and range-less fielder that Tejada has become in the twilight of his career, I thought it would be worthwhile to remember his days as an elite shortstop and examine his place in baseball history.
I tend to think Tejada didn’t deserve his MVP in 2002, as he trailed fellow shortstop Alex Rodriguez in nearly every major category, including a 150-point deficit in OPS, but he was certainly one of the top all-around players in baseball that season and was very much deserving of his fifth-place finish in the 2004 balloting.
At his peak Tejada was in the lineup every day, playing all 162 games in six straight seasons, and typically batted .275-.300 with 25-35 homers, tons of RBIs, and decent defense at shortstop. Add it all up and he’s accumulated 42.8 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) for his career, which ranks 10th among all shortstops during the past 50 years:
Alex Rodriguez 105.2 Cal Ripken Jr. 89.9 Robin Yount 76.9 Derek Jeter 70.9 Barry Larkin 68.9 Alan Trammell 66.9 Ozzie Smith 64.6 Jim Fregosi 46.1 Bert Campaneris 45.3 MIGUEL TEJADA 42.8 Nomar Garciaparra 42.6 Omar Vizquel 42.6
I’m not sure Tejada will get much Hall of Fame support, but he has a reasonable case if you’re like me and generally believe shortstops and other up-the-middle defenders are underrepresented in Cooperstown recently. Like many great athletes the end of Tejada’s career hasn’t been pretty, but he was a helluva player for a long time and few shortstops can top his 2000-2007 peak.