The future of Mark Teixeira

Staten Island's season opener takes a backseat to Kontos' return
Game 68: Time for Brian Cashman to crack some skulls

While I remain unconcerned that Mark Teixeira is done as a top notch hitter, it’s tough to ignore the now 3 month slump he is in heading back to the 2009 postseason.  While we can write off April as he always struggles, he hasn’t yet turned it around the way we expected.  Since the Yankees have Teixeira signed thru 2016 (his age 36 season) I wanted to see how comparable hitters thru age 29 fared from their age 30-36 seasons to see what could be in store for Tex.  I’m simply using Tex’s 5 most similar hitters (per B-Ref), so there can certainly be extenuating circumstances that can explain either a surge in offense or a drop off.  Tex should profile pretty well, as he has been healthy, is a hard worker, and seems to take care of himself off the field.  These guys may be fatter, skinnier, have used steroids, partied harder, etc., so it’s not necessarily a prediction of what Tex will do over the next 7 years (2010 inclusive), but more how comparable bats have fared.

#1 Carlos Delgado

Delgado was a beast from age 30-36.  In his worst season, his last in Toronto, he still managed a .269/.372/.535 129 OPS+ line with 32 HR’s in just 128 games.  If Tex’s production is anywhere near Delgado’s, the contract will play out just fine.  As a hitter Delgado’s best seasons are better than Teixiera’s, but Tex so far has been a little more consistent year in and year out.

#2 Kent Hrbek

Hrbek is certainly the scary name on the list but better than I remember.  He was a beast on RBI Baseball, and while his numbers thru age 29 don’t include any 40 HR seasons, he was  regularly in the mid 20’s when that actually meant something.  He was a solid hitter, but not in the truly elite class of baseball.  He never even made it to 36, retiring after his age 34 season.  Here’s hoping Tex does a lot better than Hrbek after turning 30.

#3 Jeff Bagwell

Bagwell had already slowed by the time he was 30 but was still producing in a big way.  From 26-29 his OPS+ was an astounding 168.  After the age of 30 his high was 162, and never hit 140 once turning 33, dropping every year from the age of 31 until he retired at 37.  I’d love to see Bagwell-type production from Tex, though he certainly was past his prime by the time he hit 32.

#4 Fred McGriff

The Crime Dog was productive from 30-36, but only had 2 great seasons in 1994 and 1999.  Every other year his OPS+ was between 106 and 119.  Clearly not a hole in the lineup, but not the production Tex was brought in to provide.  Of note with McGriff is that while 1994 was a great year for him, it was a great (and interesting) year for offense in baseball altogether.  When the strike hit, McGriff had 34 HR’s in only 113 games, which was just two off his career high.  Tex producing like McGriff from 30-36 wouldn’t be a total disappointment, but also not what the Yankees are paying for.

#5 Jim Thome

Thome is clearly the class of this bunch after the age of 30.  He had the two best seasons of his career at ages 30 and 31 and was still producing up to age 36 (and beyond).  He did have an injury shortened year at 34 which led to him ending up back in the American League as a full time DH.  DH’ing likely helped Thome’s later years, but it’s doubtful that Tex will be spending much time at DH in the future.  I’ll say right now that Tex will not produce like Thome from age 30-36 as he simply isn’t as a good a hitter as Thome was, but hopefully he’ll be able to age like Thome and continue to produce at a very high level.

The good news as you can see as everyone but Hrbek was healthy and played quite a few games from ages 30-36.  Hrbek was done after the strike season in 1994, playing just 81 games with a 99 OPS+.  Everyone else averaged at least 134 games (and that was Thome who was held back as a DH) and produced.  The bad news is that they all had their best seasons at either 30 or 31 and it was downhill from there.  Still productive but downhill.  While that’s concerning enough, it’s even more concerning considering all of these guys played in the height of the steroids era, when the aging process seemed to stand still for many players.  Clearly Tex’ best post 30 season won’t be this year, but even if he’s great again next year, it might be the best we see out of Tex for the remainder of the contract.

For more of my work head over to Mystique and Aura.

Staten Island's season opener takes a backseat to Kontos' return
Game 68: Time for Brian Cashman to crack some skulls
  • Bonos

    Unless Long can do his miracle do over, ala Swisher, I can’t see Texiera coming to life anytime soon. The man has incredible talent, hitting at the top level for years, considering his collapsing base. But if and until Tex is willing to adjust I’m afraid nothing can be done. Give Swisher full marks for being willing to develop. Most of his at bats now are beautiful to watch.

    • Dirty Pena

      How does a sensible fact like this: “The man has incredible talent, hitting at the top level for years,” become this: “until Tex is willing to adjust I’m afraid nothing can be done.”

    • Jonathan P.

      Teixiera will do fine.

  • Accent Shallow

    B-Ref’s comparable players are based on counting stats that are unadjusted for league and park. So while this piece is definitely interesting, I’m not sure how much predictive value there is here.

  • Dela G

    he’ll be fine

  • yoo-boo

    I believe Jim Thome is only the true comparison because he swings uppercut. However, Thome’s legs are by far more powerful than Tex. For Tex’s sake, he has to not lose swing memory and timing to stay consistent.

    His skill is good for 270-290 BA with solid 25-30 HR in long term. Any more than that is a bonus although it wont live up to his contract. Whilst it is solid, he will lose 3rd spot in near future.

    • yoo-boo

      scratch the uppercut part. dunno why i said that.

  • Mike Nitabach

    Holy shit! They just showed a River Avenue Blues ad on YES! Awesome!

  • Pasqua

    In what I think was Hrbek’s last year, we went to Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks play the Twins. Back then, you could get to field level during BP, regardless of where your tickets were, so we hung down by the LF corner, where Hrbek happened to be playing catch.

    By this point, Hrbek had fallen from grace and was platooning a lot. My friend called down to him, “Kent! Why aren’t you playing?!”

    Hrbek caught a toss, threw it back, looked up at us, and said, “Because I suck.”

    Ah, memories.

    • Steve H

      That’s an awesome story.

  • Januz

    Mark Teixeira is an extremely dedicated player, and I have little doubt he will do whatever is necessary to fix his on-the-field problems(Perhaps it will take a swing adjustment during the off-season?). This man (Prior to this year), was on the fast track to Cooperstown (Maybe becoming only the 3rd switch-hitter to get 500 home runs) What is happening to him, is what is happrning to many Yankees…….. An off year (Cano, Cervelli, Gardner, Pettitte, and Hughes excluded). Games they won last year, they are now losing (Like the Met game testerday). All of the injuries have not helped either. The fact the Yankees (And Red Sox for that matter) are still competitive after all of the injuries speaks volumes to how good those teams are.

  • forensicnucchem

    Wait, I’m confused about the need for this post. I was told he’s fine since he crushed a 315 foot homer off Halladay.

  • Doug

    while of course we’d love a thome/bagwell/delgado next 6 years, i think if tex can give us mcgriff’s .291/.374/.494 over that time (averaging 27 HRs and 97 RBIs), we should take it.

    • Mike HC

      Man. One prolonged slump and everyone is ready to accept 20 something homers and decent power for the rest of the contract? Teix is one monster month away from getting his number to all star level. He will go on a monster streak this year and everything will be fine again.

  • mike c

    hypothetically, if tex hits .300 for the rest of the year, his average will approximately be around .275 for the year

  • Master

    The guest posts have become ponderous.