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A world without Miguel Tejada

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Miguel Tejada reportedly agreed to a deal with the Miami Marlins. Let's reminisce.

The straw that broke the skipper's suspension of disbelief. Never 4get.
The straw that broke the skipper's suspension of disbelief. Never 4get.
Tony Medina

Technically, Miguel Tejada could play in the Giants game tonight.

Wait, come back! It's true. The Marlins are reportedly close to signing Tejada. A couple of roster moves here, a couple of plane tickets there, and boom, he's in the game. Though I figured he was living under AT&T Park and playing the organ the whole time.

Memory time.

The year was 2011, and Miguel Tejada was awful. The Giants didn't have another option at shortstop after parting ways with Edgar Renteria, so they went with the only option on the market, which was Tejada. He started the season slow with Baltimore, but recovered somewhat with the Padres. His OPS+ marks before signing as a 37-year-old free agent:

2007: 109
2008: 92
2009: 110
2010: 91

A shortstop who could put up a 90ish OPS+ and not swallow his glove at short wasn't anything the Giants had within the organization. I remember liking the deal well enough at the time. This is your weekly reminder not listen to anything I suggest. Tejada was dreadful, and he didn't last the season. 

Because of this complete and utter flameout, the Giants were in a pickle. They needed a shortstop to play baseball games, but they didn't have anyone worthy of playing the position in the majors. They called up Brandon Crawford after 988 underwhelming at-bats in the minors. His minor-league OPS by level:

A+: .976 (182 AB)
AA: .682 (683 AB)
AAA: .618 (107 AB)

This ignores things like park and league, but you get an idea of the trend. By almost all statistical indications, this was not a player who was close to the big leagues, at least as a hitter. After becoming the starter when Tejada was deposed -- apart from a bizarre dalliance with Orlando Cabrera -- Crawford hit .204/.288/.296, which is about what we should have expected. 

It turns out that what Crawford needed was to see major-league pitching. His time in the minors was interrupted by various injuries, so he was a funny prospect to evaluate in the first place. Since coming up, though, his production has been trending upward:

OPS+
2011: 67
2012: 86
2013: 96
2014 (on pace): 124
2015 (projected): 154
2016 (projected): 202
2017 (projected): 252

So it's time to ask this question: What would have happened if Miguel Tejada were good? 

It wasn't an impossible scenario. Tejada had played more than 2,000 games for four different franchises before joining the Giants, and all of those franchises remembered him fondly. He was an MVP in Oakland, a perennial MVP candidate in Baltimore, and he made two All-Star teams with Houston. There weren't any overt signs of mummification.

If he's good: The Giants possibly sign him for the 2012 season, too. If he were good enough, maybe even for two years, akin to the Aubrey Huff deal. 

If he's good: Crawford stays in the minors for the rest of the 2011 season, but he doesn't see major-league pitching and get major-league instruction until the following season, if not the year after that. 

So 2012 starts with either a Tejada likely to implode or a completely green Crawford unable to hold his head above water. There's a chance the Giants don't make the playoffs (though they won the division by eight games), and there's certainly a chance that the Giants don't win the World Series with Crawford's help.

Miguel Tejada's career died for your wins. Remember him fondly.

No point. Just a note that Tejada signed today and that, boy, 2011 was a weird season. And I can't help but wonder what Crawford's career would look like if he weren't dropkicked into the fire when he wasn't ready.