Yankees have won the World Series with struggling key players


For many reasons, Mark Teixeira probably didn’t appreciate Tuesday’s break in World Series action. He’s struggled through the first five games, as he has throughout most of the playoffs. Off-days aren’t kind to slumping players. The media, needing to fill column inches, tend to harp on these guys, endlessly pointing out their paltry contributions. Teixeira was no exception.

Not only does Teixeira have to deal with nearly every major media outlet harping on his struggles during an off-day, but he has to deal with the off-day itself. From Jim Baumbach’s “Teixeira is struggling” column, regarding the frequent days off in October:

“I’m not going to make excuses because everyone has to deal with it. But being a switch hitter and being a guy who lives off hot streaks and lives off a rhythm, it doesn’t help.”

Thankfully, most of Teixeira’s 10 postseason hits have been pretty big. His two hits in the ALDS were a single before an Alex Rodriguez game-tying home run, and then a walk-off homer in the same game. He had just one extra base hit in the ALCS, and that was a bases-loaded double that brought the Yankees within one of the Angels after being down 4-0 most of the game. In the World Series he has just two hits, one of them a home run off Pedro Martinez that tied Game 2.

Instead of just lamenting Teixeira’s struggled, I’d like to look at some other key Yankees who struggled through a postseason or World Series in which the Yankees won. Maybe that will put his struggles in perspective.

Bernie Williams

Bernie has 22 postseason home runs, second all time to Manny Ramirez. We’ve seen some big postseason moments from Bernie over the years, and he contributed a lot to the Yankees four World Series titles of the late 90s. Yet Bernie always seemed to struggle in the World Series. In 141 career Series plate appearances, Williams is just 25 for 120 with three doubles, five home runs, and 20 walks, for a slash line of .208/.319/.358. There have been some pretty atrocious performances in there, but none worse than the 1998 World Series in which he went 1 for 16, his lone hit being a home run.

While he generally hit well across the LDS and LCS rounds, Bernie has turned in a pair of poor postseason performances. The first was 1998, when he went hitless in 11 LDS at-bats and then had that terrible World Series. He did pick it up against Cleveland in the LCS, though, reaching base 15 times in 28 plate appearances, though he had just one extra base hit, a double, in that round. Then in 2000 he did the same thing, going 5 for 20 with no extra base hits in the LDS, smacking around the Mariners in the LCS, and then going back into hiding for the World Series with a 2 for 18 performance.

Bernie will always be revered by Yankees fans for his contributions to the four championships, but there have been times when he’s fallen short. He’s never hit well in the World Series, though his bat was sometimes a big reason why the Yankees got there.

Paul O’Neill

In his first World Series in New York — the team’s first appearance since 1981 — O’Neill couldn’t hit the Braves. He picked up just two over 12 at bats in that series, though both were doubles. He continued that slump into the 1998 World Series, where he went 4 for 19 with a double as his only extra base hit. Then again in 1999 he was 3 for 15 with no extra base hits. It wasn’t until 2000 that O’Neill would hit in the Series, as he also did in 2001.

O’Neill has also struggled through an entire postseason. In 1999 he had just 11 hits in 44 at bats, which is bad enough, but even worse it came without the benefit of extra bases. Just 11 singles was all O’Neill could muster. Yet the Yankees went on to win each of the series on the way to a sweep of the Atlanta Braves.

Tino Martinez

There’s quite a connection here between Martinez and Teixeira. Martinez struggled in his first Yankees postseason, much like Teixeira is now. He went 4 for 22 with two doubles in the LDS, 4 for 22 with one double in the LCS, and then 1 for 11 with no extra base hits in the World Series. That one hit game in the Yankees 12-1 Game 1 loss, making it hurt that much more. Martinez’s struggles were so pronounced, in fact, that Joe Torre opted to start Cecil Fielder at first base when the team was in Atlanta.

The Yankees survived his 0 for 3 performance in Game 6 of that World Series to defeat the Braves 3-2. That game centered around one inning in which Martinez did not bat, and was controlled by excellent pitching by Greg Maddux and Jimmy Key.

Teixeira’s struggled are frustrating, but they’re not unprecedented. Key Yankees have had bad postseasons, and even more have had poor World Series performances. That didn’t stop the Yankees from winning four titled last decade, and it shouldn’t stop them from winning it this year. It would be nice to see Teixeira contribute to a big Game 6 win, but if he doesn’t he still has a great group of hitters surrounding him. “If we were losing games 2-1 and I was leaving a ton of guys on base, I would have been squeezing the life out of the bat,” he said. “But my teammates have been picking me up just like I picked them up all season. That’s how a team works.”

Categories : Offense


  1. MatyRuggz says:

    Its no different than any other postseason. It always seems like somebody’s big bat has gone cold. Heck, the Phillies are dealing with Ryan Howard’s struggles, which may be the worst series by a league MVP ever (assuming his monster year nets him the NL MVP).

    I’m not worried. On the flip side, a little guy usually comes up big. Melky was ours before he blew out his hamstring. Maybe Gritner will pick up where Melky left off with tonight’s game.

  2. Rose says:

    The World Series has some of the best pitchers in baseball…that’s how the other team got to where they are. Sometimes they make pitches to key hitters because that’s what they’re suppose to be doing. It seems like the mistakes that these pitchers have made…they have certainly paid for…it’s not like he’s striking out every time or topping the ball constantly. They’ve been making their pitches to him…and the ones they’ve missed…he’s taken advantage of. That’s my interpretation anyway. Besides, he’s played such stellar defense…not that this evens anything out…but at least we don’t have Giambi still on the team slumping…

  3. Frank says:

    I have a feeling Cano, who has also been a non-factor, will come up big tonight, along with Swisher. I think this game is going to be a slugfest and those two get the Yanks over the top for # 27.

  4. Mike HC says:

    Great post. It really puts things in perspective and forces you to not glorify the past beyond what it deserves. NIce job! At least defensively Teix has been flawless really in all aspects.

    I think another factor could be the weather. When he came out with the earflaps for the first cold weather game, like Cano and others, I got a little worried. It shows that some of his concentration is being lost by thinking about the weather.

  5. Joe says:

    Like I said in a chat a couple weeks ago…if this ends with Tex hitting a grand slam like Tino did in ’98 nobody will remember any of his prior struggles.

  6. Bernie will always be revered by Yankees fans for his contributions to the four championships, but there have been times when he’s fallen short. He’s never hit well in the World Series, though his bat was sometimes a big reason often the primary fucking reason why the Yankees got there.

    Feared Williams’s wOBA during the title years of 1996-2000:

    Cumulative tripleslash, 1996-2000:
    .324/.410/.551 (145+)

    Domination, holmes.

  7. Dustin says:

    Just had to correct your math, Joe, on Bernie’s career triple-slash line in the Series. It’s actually .208/.321/.358. You put his OPS in for his SLG.

  8. ansky says:

    I love how when AROD had the K’s in the first 2 games Buck couldnt stop talking about the strikeout record, but he never says a peep while Howard continues to pile on the Ks. I guess Howard plays the game the right way. Its examples like this why Bernie wont make the HOF. Just look at this playoff run. Listening to these broadcasters I fully expect Nick Punto, Cliff Lee, and Victorino’s hand to make it into the HOF before Bernie does.


    • Rose says:

      Howard already has the regular season record for strike outs…

      And people don’t really care about Ryan Howard NEARLY as much as they do Alex Rodriguez.

      See the steroid scandals. Alex Rodriguez was left alone to sit and explain himself and was somewhat forced to do so right away. Then David Ortiz and Manny get caught (Manny twice) and Ortiz gets to consult with his lawyers and mull over his options for weeks and the players association comes out to back him up specifically (when he left Arod out there high and dry).

      It’s just the way it is. They love the Red Sox. They hate the Yankees.

      • Zack says:

        Ortiz will get back to us with more information when he gets it!!1

      • Rick in Boston says:

        Actually, Mark Reynolds is the holder of the single-season strikeout record. Howard used to have it, but Reynolds broke it in 2008 and then again this year.


      • Howard already has the regular season record for strike outs…

        Nitpick: Howard’s record of 199 K in 2007 was broken by Mark Reynolds last year (204) and rebroken this year, again by Reynolds (223).

        But yes, Howard’s back to back 199 K seasons of 2007 and 2008 are the 3rd and 4th highest single season totals in MLB history, so, yeah, he’s not good at not striking out. I smell ya, Rose.


        Fun fact: ARod’s two worst K seasons were 2005 and 2006, 139 K in each. Those two seasons are tied (with 18 others) for the 294th highest K-seasons.

        Jim Thome appears on the list higher than ARod TEN TIMES.

  9. Zack says:

    It’s only natural for guys to struggling. It’s the world series, chances are the other team got there because they also have good pitching, sometimes you have tip your cap. And no lineup is going to have all the top hitters go crazy in one series and average 8 runs/game, its not realistic- then again most fans are not realistic.

    • toad says:

      True, especially the last sentence. When you have a lineup full of good hitters one or two are likely going to be struggling at any given time. In a sense, Teixeira and Cano have drawn the short straws so far.

  10. One more awesome thing about Derek Jeter:

    For shits and giggles, I wanted to see if there was any single postseason where he struggled. There’s only one: 2007. He’s had a few stinkers series, of course; with all the postseason series he’s played, he’s bound to have some bad ones… but he always had at least one good series of the two or three levels of playoffs played in any given year except for the 2007 ALDS defeat to the Indians.

    13 years of postseasons, only one October that was bad from start to finish. And it was the shortest one of the 13.

    Derek Jeter, postseason OPS, year by year:

    ALDS .412/.412/.471 (.882)
    ALCS .417/.417/.625 (1.042)
    WS .250/.400/.250 (.650)

    ALDS .333/.417/.667 (1.083)

    ALDS .111/.273/.111 (.384)
    ALCS .200/.259/.320 (.579)
    WS .353/.450/.353 (.803)

    ALDS .455/.538/.727 (1.266)
    ALCS .350/.409/.550 (.959)
    WS .353/.389/.412 (.801)

    ALDS .211/.318/.211 (.529)
    ALCS .318/.464/.591 (1.055)
    WS .409/.480/.864 (1.344)

    ALDS .444/.476/.500 (.976)
    ALCS .118/.200/.118 (.318)
    WS .148/.179/.259 (.438)

    ALDS .500/.526/.875 (1.401)

    ALDS .429/.556/.643 (1.198)
    ALCS .233/.281/.400 (.681)
    WS .346/.393/.462 (.854)

    ALDS .316/.350/.526 (.876)
    ALCS .200/.333/.233 (.567)

    ALDS .333/.348/.619 (.967)

    ALDS .500/.529/.938 (1.467)

    ALDS .176/.176/.176 (.353)

    ALDS .400/.538/.900 (1.438)
    ALCS .259/.394/.481 (.875)
    WS .364/.391/.455 (.846)

  11. ShuutoHeat says:

    Tex is my 2nd favorite player on the IF. But that’s not going to help him hit any better. From my PoV he has had some good pitches to swing at, but he seems to get under it way too often. Plus, does the shit-like strike zone also affect a player that is already slumping at a plate?

    Luckily he isn’t having one of those big player performance meltdowns, so his defense is intact and he has flashed the leather multiple times in the series. Don’t forget the laser beam HR he smacked the Twins with!

  12. Jay says:

    Tex is struggling, but he isn’t under the scrutiny that A-Rod was under largely for two reasons:

    1. A-Rod came aboard the Yankees at a time when he was considered the best baseball player alive. I don’t think there has ever been a player who was more under a microscope than Alex Rodriguez. Of course, Alex brought a lot of that scrutiny on himself with his big mouth and Tex is as quiet as they come.

    2. Tex does have a couple of big hits in the playoffs (His 2 home runs for example) and his defense has been highlight machine all on its own this post-season. Remember the 8-6-3 putout of Abreu? That’s only the second time in post season history it has been done and the last time was 1951. He has scooped balls out of the dirt, kept his foot on the bag when throws have gone high and wide has displayed amazing range.

    I’m still going to get pissed if he’s making the third out of an inning and leaving A-Rod to lead off, but it’s not difficult to see why he’s gotten a pass.

  13. mryankee says:

    I dont care who struggles and who doesnt as al davis said Just win baby. I dont care if someone is signed out of teh stands and hits the game winning homer. I just want to see the Yankees pull it off and then hear Red Sox fan whine and then we get to the offseason and see who will be under the christmas tree this year.

  14. Rose says:

    2009 World Series OPS

    Chase Utley – 1.615
    Jayson Werth – 1.047
    Carlos Ruiz – .931
    Raul Ibanez – .750
    Jimmy Rollins – .680
    Pedro Feliz – .632
    Ryan Howard – .501
    Shane Victorino – .495

    Hideki Matsui – 1.822
    Alex Rodriguez – .919
    Johnny Damon – .911
    Derek Jeter – .846
    Nick Swisher – .833
    Jorge Posada – .708
    Mark Teixeira – .577
    Robinson Cano – .325
    Brett Gardner – .000

  15. I said it last time and I’ll say it again (even if I was wrong then): Tex and Cano will get big hits tonight.

  16. dalelama says:

    Has anyone ever noticed that Cano never seems to get hit when they matter. You think dividing rbis by hits is a good way to measure someones “clutchness” ?

    • ALCS Game 5, October 22, 2009:

      Top of the 7th, Yankees Batting, Behind 0-4, Angels’ John Lackey facing 7-8-9
      t7 0 — O 2,(0-1) FX 2% 95% 0-4 NYY N. Swisher J. Lackey Flyball: CF (Short CF)
      t7 1 — 2,(0-1) CX -2% 93% 0-4 NYY M. Cabrera J. Lackey Double to RF (Ground Ball)
      t7 1 -2- 8,(3-2) BCC*BF*BFB -2% 90% 0-4 NYY J. Posada J. Lackey Walk
      t7 1 12- 4,(3-0) BBBB -6% 85% 0-4 NYY D. Jeter J. Lackey Walk; Cabrera to 3B; Posada to 2B
      t7 1 123 O 3,(1-1) BCX 6% 91% 0-4 NYY J. Damon J. Lackey Flyball: LF (Short LF)
      Darren Oliver replaces John Lackey pitching
      t7 2 123 RRR 1,(0-0) .X -19% 72% 0-4 NYY M. Teixeira D. Oliver Double to CF (Fly Ball to Deep LF-CF); Cabrera Scores; Posada Scores; Jeter Scores
      t7 2 -2- 4,(3-0) IIII -2% 70% 3-4 NYY A. Rodriguez D. Oliver Intentional Walk
      t7 2 12- R 3,(1-1) SBX -18% 52% 3-4 NYY H. Matsui D. Oliver Single to CF (Line Drive to Deep SS-2B); Teixeira Scores; Rodriguez to 2B
      Kevin Jepsen replaces Darren Oliver pitching
      t7 2 12- RR 3,(1-1) .BFX -31% 20% 4-4 NYY R. Cano K. Jepsen Triple to CF (Line Drive to Deep CF-RF); Rodriguez Scores; Matsui Scores
      t7 2 –3 O 2,(1-0) BX 3% 23% 6-4 NYY N. Swisher K. Jepsen Flyball: LF
      6 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB. Yankees 6, Angels 4.

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