Rounding second and heading for home

Bruney to Trenton as bullpen moves loom
Observation: Joba should listen to Jorge

We talk often about quantifying what happens on the field. In order to better understand a player’s value, advanced baseball metrics have moved from the closed doors of teams’ Front Offices to the forefront of the Internet. While, as Alan Schwarz’s The Numbers Game showed, statistical evaluation in baseball is nearly as old as the game itself, only recently has it moved into the realm of everyday fandom.

Yet, for all the talk of numbers, sometimes things happen that aren’t explained by statistical contributions. Sometimes, the game unfolds in new and unexpected ways. That’s what happened last night.

Luis Castillo’s dropping the pop up last night was unexpected. It doesn’t really happen. In fact, the Yanks hadn’t walked off on an error in six seasons. Yet, the even more unexpected part was Mark Teixeira. On a lazy pop up that should have ended the game, Mark Teixeira scored all the way from first base.

After the game, his teammates praised him. “What stands out is Mark Teixeira’s hustle. That wins the game for us. That’s why he’s my MVP right now. He’s doing everything,” Alex Rodriguez said. A-Rod, of course, had it easy. All he had to do was stand on first base to avoid getting tagged out before Teixeira scored. He did.

Meanwhile, we laugh at overused baseball cliches of grit and hustle. A player can have as much grit and hustle as anyway, but a .320 on-base percentage is still a .320 on-base percentage. What Teixeira did last night though transcends that element of the game. Many players — from scrubs to superstars — would just trot around the bases waiting for the inevitable to happen. Teixeira ran all-out from first to home on a ball that barely made it into right field.

That’s a move that separates the cream of the crop from everyone else. Teixeira gets a run scored. The Yanks get a badly-need win. And I’ll just sit back and admire how Teixeira offers up a complete package, the likes of which the Yanks haven’t seen at first base in a long time. That is $180 million well invested, and you can bet that John Henry, idiotic comments aside, was thinking it just as I was as Teixeira slid home with the Yanks’ 9th run of the night.

Bruney to Trenton as bullpen moves loom
Observation: Joba should listen to Jorge
  • Nady Nation

    the MT curse?

    • JeffG

      He’ll find out soon enough about the MT curse… I hope Tex blasts there asses in the big games down the stretch or into the playoffs. That would be just the cherry if Tex bet them up and sent them packing.

  • ArodMVP217

    Mark is the man.

  • Mister Delaware

    Nicely put, Ben.

  • anonymous

    Teixeira gets intentionally walked and still wins the game.

    • thebusiness

      That was a clutchy intentional walk, that’s why.

      • anonymous

        Walk-off hustle.

  • bonestock94

    Huge contract or not, Teix is almost up there with the dynasty era Yankees as far as I’m concerned.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

      Is Tex a True Yankee now?

  • Ivan

    Teixeira as I said before is really becoming one of my fav yanks. Since the offseason I was really hoping the yanks sign him and of course, BAM, he was signed.

    This guy is just amazing man, and you know, he does have certain intagible I love and has a little attitude that I admire.

    The Sox would love Teix right now and it’s gonna bite em on their ass.

    PS: John Henry can suck a dick, Teix fuckin ROCKS!!!

    • anonymous

      Its rare to see someone fit in on the Yankees so well. Hes incredibly comfortable here.

  • Andy in Sunny Daytona

    Castillo made 2 errors on that play, one physical and one mental, dropping the ball and throwing to second.

  • CB

    Take a look at last night’s WPA breakdown of the game.

    Tex’s WPA – 0.269 (which is quite good – but largely due to his HR)

    Alex’s WPA – 0.716

    The limitations of statistics.

    An astounding one game WPA is attributed to Alex for hitting a pop up while Tex’s contribution in the 9th inning isn’t primarily for his hustle but for his quasi-intentional walk.

    • YankeeScribe

      Give Alex credit for not striking out. Anytime a ball is put in play, there’s an opportunity to score…

    • ARX

      I don’t know how WPA is calculated…but slightly OT – did Castillo get like -.999 for that error? OR does it not count defense?

      • CB

        Doesn’t take into account defense.

        Castillo’s WPA was -0.20 last night. Not good but not horrendous either.

  • Ray

    great post! most other players would have been jogging and may have starting off the field as the ball hit the glove. It was the type of play that tells you alot about the character and make-up of the man. He’s built up alot of capital and good will with his defense and his husstle. Player go into slumps and Tex will have his share through a long season, I just hope fans remember this night when it happens.

  • JeffG

    Last night’s game was a perfect example of what you want in your star players. Guys you have the skills and take nothing for granted. Manny Ramirez does not score there.

  • josh

    tiex is awesome. hopefully he keeps it up. he is like giambi if the giambalco actually knew how to play babeball. j/k kind of. seriously though, he brings the hitting giambi brought but can field and run the bases too – not to mention it is fair to assume at this early stage in the contract he should maintain longer than giambi

  • Tony

    Don’t we all love Tex? The idiots bashing him after 3 weeks should have their NYY cards pulled.

    • Mister Delaware

      Same with the idiots still bashing Alex-Rod.

  • Charlie

    Good post, Tex is just awesome, and thank God he didn’t wind up with the Sox.

  • Mike R. – Retire 21

    I must admit that while I was excited about the Tex signing I never suspected he would be this good. It’s crazy! He is probably the best FA signing in this decade.

  • Charlie

    Swisher’s sitting today, I’d say that’s a good thing considering his multiple boneheaded plays recently, hopefully Andy goes deep into the game because Coke, Robertson, Mo, and possibly Tomko(who needs him anyway?) all might be unavailable.

  • Bonos

    Not bash A Rod? He was swinging from the heels again, still, yet, one more time. Hit a single, tie the game – maybe a gapper for the win. No, it’s all or nothing – more goat than hero. What was he celebrating, a crappy at bat? A 3-1 pitch, where is the zone hitting? The guy is still working the record book guessing at pitches. Anyone remember the game before when he struck on a slider in another time zone?

    • Raf

      ugh.

    • JP

      I don’t dispute anything factual you say there, and agree he doesn’t have his best at bats when it’s most needed.

      But it’s unfair to presume his motivation and attack it. Nobody knows what’s going on in his head except him. He’s a heck of a ballplayer.

      • thurdonpaul

        jp, i think thats the problem, a-rod doesnt even know whats going on in his own head, at times
        lets go yanks
        lets go a-rod

    • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif OmgZombies!

      Cant be too mad at him, he had a “clutch” hit against Boston the night before

    • Jack

      What was he celebrating, a crappy at bat?

      If you watch the replay, he slammed his bat down in disgust as soon as he hit it. The celebration didn’t start until the winning run scored.

  • JP

    It’s nice to get a player who seems to have zero warts. The Yankees have had lots of great players and free agent acquisitions, most of them very good players. But to paraphrase Pee Wee Herman, everyone of them has had (at least) one big “but.”

    Randy Johnson? Effective, lacked killer instinct (per Torre…don’t flame me).

    Sheffield? Great player, but injuries, and questions about attitude.

    Soriano? Great power, but awful plate discipline and struck out 8 million times in the playoffs.

    Giambi? Pitiful defense, slow, injuries.

    ARod? I know how incredibly good and productive he is, but anyone who isn’t at least a little upset that he doesn’t come up big in the high leverage situations more often than he does is fooling himself.

    Matsui? Hard to fault this guy, but 8,765 grounders to second gets old.

    I’m drifting a bit here, but it’s just another way to say that Texiera is the complete package. He hits like a beast, he hits good pitchers, he scares other teams’ pitchers into walking him (and beaning him, apparently), he catches the ball, he hustles, he seems to be loved by his teammates.

    The kind of guy you can build a championship season around.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      ARod? I know how incredibly good and productive he is, but anyone who isn’t at least a little upset that he doesn’t come up big in the high leverage situations more often than he does is fooling himself.
      Alright if you’re so sure of yourself then back up your statement with the stats for this.
      I don’t know myself but A-Rod is more clutch than everyone makes him out to be. Someone posted his stats with RISP and they aren’t bad at all.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Or I could be completely off in my statement.
        .233 AVG and .386 OBP career with RISP.
        Well he doens’t get the hit but he isn’t a liability

      • http://www.richardiurilli.com/ Richard Iurilli

        He is Alex Rodriguez. If he does not hit at least .700 with runners in scoring position and hit at least one walk-off home run a week, he is not doing his job.

        /hyperbole

        • Mister Delaware

          So you’re ok with him failing 30% of the time? Apologist.

        • JP

          Someone wrote an article on Barry Bonds when he was in one of his freak seasons, and they showed that he had a much better HR % when the bases were empty than when there were runners on. I don’t remember the details, but it was Neyer I think who wrote it, and the conclusion was that, while he was immensely valuable, he was, compared to Pujols and some others, lacking when the high leverage situations came up. There was hard data in the article, it wasn’t a fluff piece.

          Somewhere, the data is out there on ARod. I would love to see it.

          I am a big fan of ARod. I think he’s a great player. I make a mental note whenever he gets a big hit; I make a mental note when Mr. November screws up in “the clutch.” I don’t do any of this out of spite; I do it because I want to sort of keep tabs on myself and try to convince myself that the “A-Fraud” label is wrong, and unfounded.

          But I’m sorry, even going to these extremes, it is very hard not to conclude that he does not come through in the clutch as often as he could, or “should.” There was a stretch, when the Yankees were winning alot a couple of weeks ago, when he came to the plate about 6 times with the bases loaded and never got a hit, or a walk, if I remember. There was a little dribbler that the 3b picked up against Tampa and turned a DP. There were lots of Ks.

          I remember two big, clutch hits he’s had this year. A 2 run homer in the 9th to tie a game, and the liner off the CF wall at Fenway the other night.

          Can anyone remember any others? Has he had any monster games like Texiera, going 4-5 with multiple homers?

          Maybe he’s hurt, but this was his pattern last year, too.

          Look, a run in the 3rd counts the same as a run in the 8th. I like the guy. I think he gets a bad rap. I think his “dissapointing” clutch hitting is still more productive, in the end, than the clutch hitting of the majority of the rest of the team. Maybe his hip is slowing him down.

          But I do think there is a problem with him, an “issue” with being able to perform at his best when he is under the greatest pressure. I hope he improves, or can get back to his form of past years in this regard.

  • JimT

    It is always turbulent waters when you talk of another team or its players but c’mon it was a “tounge n cheek” comment said as a joke. If anything its more aimed at the silly “Curse of the Bambino” theme than Texiera. So, the guy is a bad comic. I don’t understand why people get so unwound over this kind of stuff. Or for that matter Hal’s crazy comments or John Sterling’s schtick, its all fun, its supposed to be entertainment.

    What’s more important is that John Henry first and foremost is a baseball guy that has been a very good principal owner of our beloved team. The Red Sox for decades didn’t suffer fron the “Curse of the Bambino” they suffered from “The Curse of Bad Ownership”. The team has never been in better hands.

    • http://farm1.static.flickr.com/153/413671602_daded72a81_m.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I’ll preface by saying that I don’t think this is the biggest deal in the world, so don’t think I’m saying Henry is some horrible person and this should be front-page news or anything.

      With that out of the way… We’ve had this conversation here before. Personally, I think it’s a pretty bad idea for the owner of a team to be talking shit about another team and especially about a particular player on that team, especially when there’s recent history there (i.e. the offseason contract negotiations). It’s just kind of cheesy and I think Henry looks like a punk in this situation, which is not a position a wealthy and successful team-owner should put himself in.

      Again, though, nobody should blow this out of proportion, and I really don’t think anybody is blowing it out of proportion, for that matter. Henry said something kinda stupid, Tex responded, and we all have a little fun pointing our fingers and laughing about it. Annnnnd scene.

      • Mister Delaware

        “Dear Mark,
        A man needs a first baseman. Well, he doesn’t really. He doesn’t need nearly as much as he generally thinks he does. A man is greedy. Greedy for what he doesn’t think he has and what he thinks he wants.
        We probably wouldn’t have wandered far beyond the basic necessities without that pushing us. Progress is one of its most important byproducts.
        So you will ask, “Why are you writing this?” Because a brief playoff matchup with you gave a cool spin to this little blue planet from my vantage point.
        We feted in Dallas tonight and the skies opened. The sun emerged and created a giant rainbow between the city and the park. We were transfixed.
        You only saw it if you were in the right place. I was in the right place (the owner’s box) when I noticed you.
        I barely know you. I don’t have any illusions about capturing your heart. But the world is brighter, better, lighter and warmer when a man imbues a first baseman he knows — even tabula rasa — with the attributes (switch hitter, spectacular defense, elite power/patience combination) that I believe reside in you. It’s the small things (hustle, leadership) that ultimately matter, the subtle things.
        I am honest. I don’t play games. And I see no reason not to say that I’ve been smitten by you and you’ve done me a great service.
        You’ve very innocently made my world brighter, better, lighter and warmer.
        So thanks.
        No response is necessary because a man doesn’t need nearly as much as he thinks he does.” – John Henry

        “Thanks, but I’m going to NY. LOL.” – MT

      • JimT

        OK ‘nuf said.

    • Januz

      John Henry’s comments were silly and inane. This guy and the entire Sox Organization for that matter, wanted Teixeira real bad, and what we are seeing is sour grapes. What we have seen with Teixeira in his brief tenure in the Bronx has been nothing short of excellent, and the numbers only tell a small part of it (Stuff like passion (Which he was accused of NOT having), hustle, and defense come to mind).
      Henry should be pleased with his team (Which right now, is clearly the best in baseball (And I am a hard core Yankee fan saying this)), and he not be so worried about Teixeira (At least right now (Of course, he could punish the Sox in a game 7 of the ALCS, which would be real fitting)).

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        Do we have to go 7 games?
        :)

      • Whitey14

        I agree with Januz here (right up to the Yanks making it to the ALCS ;-)

        However, Teixiera speaks of honesty and then goes on AGAIN to talk about it being a family decision AND that the Yankees coughed up the most dough. Which was it? If it was so much aboput his family then he knew in advance where he was hoping to go. If it was about money, he knew in advance where he was hoping to go. He had ZERO intention of signing with Boston unless they blew the other offers out of the water.

        Almost all Sox fans wanted him and I’m one of the ones who wanted him most for all the same reasons you Yankee fans love him, but he continues to contradict himself at every corner regarding his intentions this past off season. He wanted to go to the highest bidder with a chance to win the whole time because the decision was about money, which is fine, I don’t begrudge him that. He wanted to drive the price up as high as possible before calling in the Yankees to top the offers. I feel pretty certain that if the Sox offer was higher than the Yankees he would have gone back to the Yankees for a chance to top it because he knew they would, especially if they knew the high bidder was Boston. In the old days Boston would have fallen into that trap instead of New York. These days they don’t but they do unfortunately snipe about it afterwards, which I don’t care for. If he really wanted to play in Boston, he would have taken a little less to do it. He’d like us to believe he grew up in Baltimore dreaming of playing for New York? Possible, but not likely.

        I won’t try to defend Henry’s comments because he should have better things to do than worry about Teixeira, but then again, I’ve read many comments here about Red Sox players saying stupid things when asked stupid questions and I haven’t read one yet about Teixeira taking the high road instead of responding with some idiocy of his own.

  • Mike HC

    I can’t even imagine this team without Teix. I mean, the Yanks just picked up maybe one of the top 5 players in baseball. He is the complete package. That throw from his knees, just slightly lofted over David Wright’s head was very skillful. I would have loved to see Giambi try to make that play. He is a joy to watch on an everyday basis. He deserves every penny.

  • Tim

    Tex is the best move they have made in a long time, he is an everyday player who goes about his business and produces in more ones then one. I also think they should start playing this guy mike bell he is going to be one heck of a player.