Do you remember when Mark Teixiera first signed with the Yankees in 2009? The slugger hit 39 homers with 122 RBI in 156 games, and had a 142 wRC+, .402 wOBA, and was worth 5.1 WAR. He remained solid for a few seasons before eventually declining and falling victim to a wrist injury. This year, though, now that he's finally healthy, Teixeira seems to be back. While the batting average still isn't there, he's boasting by far the best wRC+ of his Yankees tenure at 158. He has the same wOBA this year as he did back in '09, but after yesterday's showing, Teixeira has already hit 29 homers this year (he had hit 26 by this point back in 2009).
Welcome to the Mark Teixeira renaissance. By fWAR, he entered Sunday's action as a top 30 player and his 3.3 WAR total will only continue to go up after he hit his fifth home run in his last four games. He entered Sunday tied with the injured Miguel Cabrera for the lead in fWAR among AL first basemen. And he's doing stuff like this:
It's the first time that the Yankees have had a healthy Teixeira in the heart of the batting order in years. Wrist surgery had sapped his power and forced more bad balls into the teeth of the shift. When questioned about his approach entering the year, Texieira said he'd simply hit the ball over the shift instead of trying to hit the ball the other way. One could say that strategy is going pretty well. A measly .182 ISO in 2014 has turned into a monstrous .319 this year, and he's showing no sign of slowing down. It would be a shock if he did not cross the 30-homer threshold this week as the Yankees return to the Bronx and the poor pitching staff of the Red Sox comes to town. Starting Tuesday's game will be Henry Owens, a rookie making his Major League debut. The jitters of Yankee Stadium might make Owens, who has control issues, leave some pitches up for Teixeira and the Yankees to feast on.
Much has been made of Alex Rodriguez's return to baseball and his wild levels of success. Yet it's Teixeira that has been the Yankees' MVP. His combination of excellent defense at first base, patience at the plate and prodigious power has led the offense to a 62-run week. August has only just begun, and at the age of 35, he has an excellent shot at setting a high water mark for home runs during his time as a Yankee.
Nobody could have possibly seen this coming at the start of the season. And that's been the narrative this entire year, hasn't it? This is almost the best case scenario. So many things have gone right, and the struggles of Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda can't stop the offensive juggernaut that the Yankees have become. Didi Gregorius is hitting .260,Stephen Drew has nearly cleared the Mendoza Line, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are wreaking havoc, Carlos Beltran is an above-average hitter again (104 wRC+), Brian McCann is hitting again, and A-Rod is not just hitting, he's mashing. Mark Teixeira may just be the best first baseman in the American League.
Oh, and the Yankees are bringing up one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, Luis Severino, on Wednesday. It's a good time to wear pinstripes. Just make sure you up your data plan. There's still plenty of Tex messages to be sent.
I'm sorry. I had to. Please don't get too mad in the comments.
Nicolas Stellini is a staff writer at Pinstripe Alley, where he writes about the Yankees and covers the Double-A Trenton Thunder. His national coverage can be found at Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @StelliniTweets.