One of the more confounding ways people seek to make arguments is to use small sample sizes. Anyone can have a hot few days or a cold few days, but if you cherry pick those numbers as representative of someone’s worth (or lack thereof) then you’re probably a fan of Darrell Huff’s 1954 seminal tome on the subject, How to Lie With Statistics.
This topic arose when I read the plethora of articles on the Mets’ new “solution” to the David Wright injury in the form of one Ruben Dario Tejada. I laughed out loud when I read several writers tripping all over themselves to heap new found praise on Tejada for his hot weekend against the Miami Marlins which resulted in (just in case you’ve forgotten) 2 losses out of 3 tries against one of the weaker teams in the league. During that three-day trial at 3B Tejada delivered with the bat to the tune of a 5-12 weekend with 4 RBIs. Wow, those numbers are indeed impressive but they’re also unsustainable.
In the interest of larger sample sizes, let’s take a look at what Mr. Tejada has done since 2013. For 2.25 seasons he has batted a rather tepid .226. Allow me to remind you that Tejada was given the 3B gig due to the failure of Eric Campbell to hold down that position. Since the beginning of 2014 he has hit .237. He also provided 4 HRs, 23 RBIs and 5 SBs during that 274 AB span. In 620 ABs, in addition to the inferior .226 AVG, Tejada hit fewer home runs, drove in proportionately fewer runs and stole fewer bases. Yet to read these articles now he’s being hailed as some kind of offensive force to hold down the fort until Wright returns.
What’s even more bizarre is the handling of Danny Muno. Through this weekend and TWO stints in the big leagues the manager has given him exactly 14 ABs to show what he can do. Wow, even Chin-Lung Hu, Brad Emaus and Taylor Teagarden got more chances than that, yet many respectable writers including Michael Baron are writing off the Mets 3B alternatives as failures when juxtaposed to Wrecker Ruben.
With only 3 big league games on his resume, it’s probably fairer to do a minor league to minor league comparison of he and Tejada. Across parts of seven seasons in the minors, Ruben batted .271 with 16 HRs, 189 RBIs and 51 SBs spread over 1929 ABs. Muno in about ¾ of the number of ABs hit .277 with 32 HRs, 204 RBIs and 55 SBs. Extrapolate those numbers over the same 1929 ABs and the margin of victory becomes even more dramatic in Muno’s favor. Throw in the fact he’s also a switch hitter and it boggles the mind that people would write him off after fewer than 3 big league games in favor of a guy who’s generated 4.6 WAR not in a single season but in aggregate over parts of 6 MLB seasons.
Hey, if I’m wrong about Tejada and he somehow morphs into Tommy Herr with the bat (who once drove in 110 runs in a season for the Cardinals with just 8 HRs), that’s great for the Mets. However, it’s a safer bet to project the future based upon more than 2.25 seasons of stats (or an entire 6 year MLB career) than it is to perch precariously on a bandwagon after one hot weekend. Me, I roll the dice on someone with greater potential.