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Mark Teixeira: Early Season Struggles Yet Again

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Presswire

Steering away from any talk of David Robertson or Mariano Rivera, let's examine New York's first baseman real quick.

Mark Teixeira is notorious for, and nearly synonymous, with slow starts. Each and every season since becoming a Yankee, I've heard endless chatter throughout April and into May about how Teixeira just needs time to warm up before he breaks out. And for the most part, that's been true. Take a look at the numbers below to see for yourself.

2009

First 29 games: 21 for 110 (.191 BA), .328 OBP, .418 SLG, 18 R, 4 2B, 0 3B, 7 HR, 17 RBI, .177 BABIP

Last 127 games: 157 for 499 (.315 BA), .396 OBP, .597 SLG, 85 R, 39 2B, 3 3B, 32 HR, 105 RBI, .327 BABIP

2010

First 29 games: 23 for 111 (.207 BA), .343 OBP, .396 SLG, 17 R, 6 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 20 RBI, .214 BABIP

Last 129 games: 131 for 490 (.267 BA), .370 OBP, .500 SLG, 96 R, 30 2B, 0 3B, 28 HR, 88 RBI, .281 BABIP

2011

First 29 games: 25 for 103 (.243 BA), .378 OBP, .544 SLG, 20 R, 7 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 18 RBI, .236 BABIP

Last 127 games: 121 for 486 (.249 BA), .332 OBP, .484 SLG, 70 R, 19 2B, 1 3B, 31 HR, 93 RBI, .239 BABIP

2012

First 29 games: 25 for 115 (.217 BA), .270 OBP, .374 SLG, 12 R, 6 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 17 RBI, .214 BABIP

Based on these numbers, indicating roughly five weeks of play, Teixeira is off to his worst start to a season as a Yankee. He's compiled his lowest marks at five weeks for on-base percentage and slugging percentage this season and been worth approximately 0.1 WAR.

Oddly enough, Teixeira's BB% and K% have both decreased dramatically from his career averages. Granted, we're talking about 29 games, but Teixeira's BB% of 6.6% and K% of 11.5% are both down from his career averages of 11.4% BB and 17.1% K.

There's also been a redistribution of the balls he puts into play. In 2012, 44.4% of batted balls are grounders and 37.4% are fly balls. Compared to 2011 (34.9% GB and 46.8% FB), there's a massive change with line drive percentage remaining constant at 18.3% in 2011 and 18.2% in 2012.

Since joining the Yankees in 2009, Teixeira's percentage of pitches swung at outside of the strike zone has steadily increased. In 2012, it sits at a rather revolting number.

Year O-Swing% O-Contact% O-Contact I O-Swing
2009 21.8% 64.0% 64.2%
2010 26.5% 68.5% 68.7%
2011 27.8% 69.3% 69.1%
2012 34.4% 76.2% 76.2%

Teixeira is swinging at well over 1/3 of the pitches he sees outside of the strike zone. Granted, he's making contact more often, as shown by the conditional probability in the right-hand column. But that isn't necessarily a good thing.

Swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone likely means the batter isn't getting the "sweet part" of the bat on the ball, therefore putting balls into play that aren't hit well. This could explain Teixeira's tendency, at least early this season, to put more balls on the ground than at any other time in his career.

I understand Teixeira has been fighting flu-like symptoms for a two or three weeks, but how about getting it together already?