The Call-Up: Wilfredo Tovar

Tovar B-Mets HeadThe Mets added Wilfredo Tovar to the active roster today to take Ruben Tejada’s spot.

Tovar, who turned 22 in August, is a very gifted defender. He’s a little dude, listed at 5’10, 160lbs, with outstanding body control. His reactions are quick and movements agile while his hands are fluid and arm strong enough to make plays from the hole. He’s really, really fun to watch defensively. The errors I saw him make in a-ball were mostly of focus, where he kicked an easy play when he lost focus rather than anything he couldn’t do.

Sure enough, his error totals, admittedly, a wildly imprecise metric for defense, have declined on an annual basis from 17 in 94 games in Savannah in 2011, to 18 in 118 games in A+/AA in 2012 to just nine in 128 games in 2013 in Binghamton. On a rate basis, that’s one error every 5.5 games in 2011, every 6.6 games in 2012 and one every 14.2 games in 2013.

 

At the plate, Tovar hit .263/.323/.340 in 486 plate appearances in AA on a .287 BABIP. His offensive game is al about making contact and drawing a few walks. Despite a career-high four home runs in 2013, he will have as little power as any player on a big league roster. In AA this year, he struck out at just a 10% rate and walked at a 6.8% clip. The Eastern League averaged a 9% walk rate and a 20% strikeout rate. So, compared to his peers, Tovar struck out at half the league average rate, and walked at 75% of the average rate.

Nice shortstop defense, lots of soft contact and a walk rate  that in the big leagues might be 60% of average, will keep Tovar above replacement level right away.

The Mets plan to platoon Tovar with Omar Quintanilla. This should help both players. In AA this year, Tovar hit .292/.361/.375 in 108 PA vs. LHP for a .736 OPS, a 92 point improvement over his work against RHP. Quintanilla has hit .237/.333/.304 against RHP and an anemic .197/.244/.250 in 82 PA vs. LHP in the big leagues this year. Tovar is certainly an improvement over Quintanilla against lefties for now. This week and a half in the big leagues will be a nice introduction for Tovar, who will be around in the next few years whenever the Mets need help at either middle infield position.

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