It really does seem to be Mark Teixeira week here at RAB. On Monday Mike looked at Teixeira’s disappointing overall numbers, and yesterday I looked at some plate discipline and shift issues. Today we’re going to look at pictures rather than numbers. Many of us suspect that, beyond facing a defensive shift, Teixeira’s woes are at least partially mechanical. We see him up there wagging his bat, and it’s hard not to think that it takes away from his swing. We’re not hitting coaches, of course, so you can take our analysis on that matter with a grain of salt. Yet sometimes video does reveal some obvious issues.
Here’s a shot of Teixeira with the Angels in 2008, in the midst of an incredible offensive run. His stance is pretty basic, slightly opened with his hands up by his ears. I’m not going to dive too far into the technical aspects, since I’m not a trained scout. But there’s nothing that stands out here. Then again, that’s because we don’t yet has a basis for comparison.
Here’s Teixeira in 2009, another year in which he hit phenomenally. The camera angle is different than the one in Texas, so it’s not a perfect comparison. But it still seems close enough. His front leg does appear a bit more open, even though the camera angle is more centered (the Rangers camera is offset in left field). Still, it appears that he’s balanced up there.
This angle is essentially the same as the 2009 one, just zoomed in a bit. I tried to capture it at the same point in the pitcher’s motion, so we’re not seeing him at different parts of his swing. Look at that back leg. That’s way out there, far more open than it was in 2009. His balance does look a bit off, as you might imagine as he changes his center of gravity. I’m not sure how great an effect this has, since he takes his stride towards the center of the batter’s box. But it looks like his stride takes longer with the more open stance.
Another thing you might notice is in the swing itself. I’ll embed the videos here so you can have a look.
Maybe I’m only seeing this because I’m looking for something, but in 2009 it appears that his bat just glides through the zone. It’s a quick, easy swing. In 2011 it looks more like he’s clubbing the ball. If anyone else looks at the videos and sees something else, by all means chime in.
Again, as a non-hitting coach and non-scout, I can’t drawn any firm conclusions from the pictures and video presented here. They look convincing enough, as Teixeira’s stands does seem far more open, and his swing doesn’t appear as smooth. Unfortunately, even if this does identify the problem, it doesn’t necessarily lead to a fix. If me, a schlub with a computer and an internet connection, can see this in video clips, I’m certain that the Yankees are aware. But hitters can’t just change like that. Teixeira widened his stance for a reason, likely as a matter of comfort at the plate. It’s a shame if it’s hurting his swing, but there’s not much anyone can do unless he’s willing to make a conscious change. After all, there’s nothing worse than standing in the box while uncomfortable.