I'm in agreement with what Matt wrote the other day, I have almost zero interest in writing about the Twins. When I do I find that what I write is mostly negative (or sarcastic) and that's just not healthy. This blog originally started out covering Major League Baseball in general and I have no problem with it reverting back to that for the time being. It's one thing when the team you love has a run of bad luck because of injuries or the like. That stuff happens from time to time and, well, you re-group, get healthy and try again next year. It's another thing when the front-office of your favorite team makes poor decision after poor decision and hamstrings what should otherwise be a good team...especially when that front-office has a brand-new stadium and over $100M at their disposal. Anyway, the bottomline is that I don't want to write yet another negative post about this team, so I'm going to continue my series on potential future Hall of Famers, players who are towards the end of their career who have borderline Hall of Fame numbers. Today's subject is a somewhat controversial one: Miguel Tejada.
Miguel Odalis Tejada was signed as an amateur free-agent by the Oakland Athletics in 1993 at the age of 21. Tejada had been playing in the Dominican Republic and was showing signs of being a special talent there. He quickly made his way through the Minor Leagues, though surprisingly he was not a very good fielder at the time, committing 70 errors in his first 182 Minor League games. His bat was there though, including a decent degree of patience, sporting a 142:246 K:BB ratio through his first 3 MiL seasons. Tejada was called up to the Bigs in August of 1997 and finished out that season with the A's, hitting .202/.240/.333 in 104 PAs (23 games). In 1998 he didn't make the team out of Spring Training, but was called up at the end of May and played the rest of the season at SS for the A's, hitting .233/.298/.384 while committing 26 errors in 526 chances.
The 1999 season was when things really got going for Tejada. He didn't smack the cover off the baseball or anything, but he played the full season at shortstop and his numbers finally started to resemble his MiL numbers. In 159 games at shortstop, Tejada hit .251/.325/.427 with 21HRs, 93Rs and 84RBIs. He also improved on defense committing 21 errors in 784 chances, good for a .973 fielding percentage. From 1999 to 2006, Tejada compiled 34.9 WAR (4.36 average) and won the MVP award for the 2002 season. During that year he played in all 162 games, he hit .308/.354/.508, he hit 34HRs, drove in 131, compiled 204 hits and crossed home plate 108 times. To be honest, he didn't deserve the MVP award that year, and it wasn't even close. Alex Rodriguez should have won the MVP award as he hit .300/.392/.623 in 2002 and drove in 142 runs (10.0 WAR!!!) for the Rangers. That said, the Rangers finished last in the AL West while the Athletics won 103 games and captured the division crown. Even Nomar Garciaparra was more deserving of the MVP award for Red Sox team that fell just short of the playoffs...but hey, winning is everything and in this case, Tejada has the A's success in 2002 to thank for his MVP award.
Tejada hasn't exactly been the same since the 2006 season. Where he was once a perennial .800+ OPS guy, he hasn't hit that mark since the 2006 season and through 50 games this year with the Giants, his OPS sits at a Twins-esque .520. At 37 years old, Tejada is clearly in the twilight of his career, though others will chalk his decline up to being a former steroid user. In 2005 Tejada was part of a panel that testified before Congress about steroids in baseball, it was later found that he lied under oath and in 2009, he was charged with lying to Congress, he pled guilty, and he was sentenced to one-year of probation. So Tejada is a known steroid-user, which will likely be a nail in the coffin for his HOF chances...unless some people change their mind. From a statistical stand-point, Tejada has the numbers...though he is a fringe candidate which likely means he won't get in. I guess it will all depend on how the "Steroid Era" is viewed 5-7 years from now when Tejada is eligible for the Hall. I'll leave you with a highlight of his offensive achievements (through 5/31/11) and let you decide.
1,202 Runs Scored
Career .286/.336/.458 hitting line
Career .971 Fielding% between SS and 3B
1 MVP Award
2 Silver Slugger Awards
29th Among Active Players with 41.0 accumulated WAR
One interesting side-note about Tejada. He's been to the playoffs 4 different times, all with Oakland, and every single one of those teams lost in the first round