The New York Mets have decided to promote Tim Tebow from the low A-ball of Columbia to the advanced A-ball of St. Lucie, and for good reason. The 29-year-old outfielder has been hitting the cover off the baseball (.222 average) while being a tough out (.311 on-base percentage), and showcasing dangerous power (3 home runs).
He’s rarely struck out (69 times), burned up the basepaths (unsuccessful in his one stolen base attempt), and caught the ball more often than he’s dropped it (.879 fielding percentage).
Not convinced Tebow has earned this yet? Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has a few more data points to consider.
There’s an old adage in baseball: if a guy’s OPS is twice as high in home games as it in in road games, he must be promoted — even if he’s six years older than anyone else on the roster.
“It’s not like he’s tearing up the league, but at the same time all of the indications are positive in terms of various things we look at — chase rates and exit velocity,” Alderson said. “The bottom line is the average isn’t there, but he’s improving.”
Let’s step out of the above bizarro world and into reality. Tebow’s two major skills to this point have been hitting ground balls and putting rear ends in seats. The latter is far more valuable than the former for the bean counters in the Mets front office.
This was always going to be how the Tebow circus was going to go. The Mets would be finding a way to have him climb the minor league ladder to a certain point in the interest of furthering the story. This is not a merit-based move or done with any consideration of the big club in Queens.
Tebow has been slightly better than expected in a very low level of the game, but still wholly unimpressive. But by not embarrassing himself, it allows the Mets to bump him up while maintaining a somewhat straight face.
The genius in doing so is that the stats reset. Tebow is no longer a .222 hitter with a .651 OPS. Those 69 strikeouts go poof and refresh to 0. If he can get off to a better start in St. Lucie than he did in Columbia, that small sample size could be used to justify the move or — gasp — provide cover to his rise to AA.
The Mets shouldn’t be faulted for doing this. No reasonable person didn’t see this coming.
At the same time, it would be nice to not be treated like a total idiot. Baseball fans at large know exactly what’s happening and why it’s happening. The next person to believe Alderson’s word salad about exit velocity will be the first.
Tebow is being promoted because he’s Tebow, not because he’s earned it. It wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Mets were honest about this. Everyone in the organization already knows it.