Jul
20

Mark Teixeira’s balance at the plate

By

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.

2009:

2011:

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.

Categories : Offense

51 Comments»

  1. Jim S says:

    After all, there’s nothing worse than standing in the box while uncomfortable.

    Standing in the box while uncomfortable and hitting poorly?

    Standing in the box while comfortable and hitting poorly?

    Or I totally missed the sarcasm. The more I read it, the more I realize that I missed the sarcasm.

  2. MannyGeee says:

    funny, I was actually thinking about this last week. looks like he is ‘forcing’ the ball out.

  3. Raul says:

    I agree with you on the change in Tex’s swing. He looks very different in 2011. Although his homerun seemed more powerful and impressive, it does indeed seem like he is trying too hard to hit the ball hard.

  4. John B says:

    You guys have a real hard on for Tex

  5. The Humongous says:

    I think the 2009 stance is closer to the 2011 version than it is to the 2008. He clearly opened up considerably in 2009 (seriously, imagine the batter’s box and then mentally draw in where his right foot is, it’s pushed much farther out towards the 1st base corner of the box than it is in 2008, regardless of the respective camera angles). 2011 just seems like a slightly more exaggerated version of the changed 2009 stance.

    Also, the angle he holds the bat clearly changes between 2008 and 2009, but seems essentially the same between the latter 2 images (although it does look like after raising his left elbow in the 2009 stance, he might be dropping it down in 2011.)

    Overall, though, it’s certainly possible that the changes in 2009 weren’t deterimental, per se, but that the further tinkering and exaggeration coming into this year has created imbalance and lessened effectiveness.

    It would be interesting to know Kevin Long’s thoughts on this one …

    • Dan says:

      I agree with you about the foot being open. The stance is a little more “hips towards the pitcher” than the 2008 option.
      What I noticed is that his hands have drifted a little further away from his body, and therefore, have further to travel. This is probably why it looks like his bat “glided” in 08 and he is a little longer and “clubbing” the ball in 2010 and 11. I think if he drew his hands in a little tighter and got his hands a little more quiet, he would be shorter to the ball and not lose very much power.
      Just sayin…

  6. Mark D. says:

    What I have seen from games this year from Teixeira is that when he is batting left handed, his swing is more of an uppercut now than it has been in years past. This would explain the increase in infield fly ball rate this year from him.

    When batting from the right side his swing is more level, and he keeps both hands on the bat through the swing. This keeps him from struggling from the right side. When batting left-handed he seems to release his left hand before finishing his swing as well which could affect his swing and his overall bat speed. His struggles from the left side could be fixed I believe if he spends more time with Kevin Long, trying to level his swing out and keeping both hands on the bat through the zone.

  7. IRF says:

    To me, it looks like that 2011 swing has a lot more uppercut in it than the ’09 one. He seem to be consciously trying to loft the ball over the short porch as opposed to driving it. Then again, the second ball was a bit lower in the zone, which might have something to do with it.

    I hope someone much smarter than me can figure out how to correct this, because I miss ’09 Tex

  8. hornblower says:

    Ted Williams said if he had to do it over again he would have tried to hit against the shift. The extreme open stance prevents any chance of going to the opposite field. He really needs to change his approach.
    Of course, when people mention power numbers they say he is having a good season. Numbers may be more important than winning. For fans it isn’t but players go for the personal stuff.

  9. CP says:

    In the 2011 video, Tex finishes with both hands still on the bat (all the way until he drops the bat). In the 2009 video, he releases his top hand after hitting the ball.

    Isn’t this something the KLong emphasizes? It’s one of the changes that Granderson made last year…

  10. Monteroisdinero says:

    A RABbi cannot be a schlub.

  11. ADam says:

    God, he’s turning into Carlos Pena

  12. Brian S. says:

    He sucks.

  13. hogsmog says:

    GET PRINCE FIELDER NOW! Use this scrub to fill in for A-roid at 3rd (Tex has experience at the position!). CHRIST CA$H GET IT TOGETHER

  14. Mister Delaware says:

    “… 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.”

    He’s always had a weird swing, almost like a far prettier version of Damon’s upper body mechanics (or the inverse of someone like A-Rod or Upton’s bat whip, his is more sweep or drag).

  15. Brandon W says:

    I wonder if video of his “bad” swings would be any more enlightening. Are his hands falling under the bat on the high pitch? When he gets out in front how is his extension, does he keep the bat back and level longer, or does it go off the end of the bat after it’s through the zone so it makes contact after the swing loses power?

    Tex and K-Long are professionals and certainly know a lot more about hitting than I could ever dream of, I’m lucky I can hit a ball on a tee, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a mechanical or systematic reason for all of the IFBs. Baseball is a game of adjustments after all.

  16. Gonzo says:

    Let’s take him out back and beat the sh*t out of him!

  17. Mickey Scheister says:

    The approach is important but whats more important is results. Yeah, BA wise at .230 and OBP at around .350 isn’t good but his power numbers are great. He has pretty much the exact power numbers as Grandy and are close enough in OBP. The biggest difference is Tex thinks he’s doing better than he is, at least that’s what I’ve gathered. The biggest issue I have with Tex is, why the funk won’t he try and beat the shift, I find myself yelling at the TV as there’s a giant hole on the 3B side and he hits into the teeth of the shift. IMO, he will remain a .240/.360 hitter unless he changes his approach versus the shift.

    • Jerome S. says:

      If beating the shift was easy, then everyone would do it. And there would never be a shift.

      • Mickey Scheister says:

        He’s not everyone, he’s the highest paid 1B on one of the best teams with the highest expectations. An acknowledgment that he is trying to go the other way would be at least mildly refreshing. If you keep going out there with the same approach you’ll get the same results. The league has adjusted to him, it’s time he adjust. Effort is measured by results.

        • Jerome S. says:

          Effort is most certainly not measured by results.

        • Tubby says:

          His slugging percentage is .499, which means he averages .499 bases per at bat. Unless you think he’s talented enough to hit .499 by aiming singles to left field, it makes no sense to try to purposefully beat the shift.

          • Mickey Scheister says:

            I’d prefer a single over making an out. He hits a max of 40-45 home runs this year in 600+ plate appearances, heck yeah I’d rather him try to aim a ball to left field to drive a run and be more of a complete hitter instead of a three outcome guy.

  18. Bronx Byte says:

    Too many moving parts in the batters box. As he loses his bat speed he won’t be able to catch up to a plus fastball.
    Granderson changed and it paid off. So can Teixeira.

  19. Bob Michaels says:

    Yes that is quite apparent that he appears CONSTPATED at the plate.Perhaps some ex-lax would help.

  20. bonestock94 says:

    This sucks and I hope it gets fixed soon.

  21. Frank says:

    I think it’s two things- his mechanics are out of whack and he’s pressing because he feels the need to pick up the slack for A-Rod being out. It may not be a conscious thing, I think it’s a factor.

  22. Monteroisdinero says:

    He needs to cut down on the blowfish breathing-add that to the “too many moving parts”. Move up in the batter’s box Tex, swing a heavier bat. Those 2 things may help him not swing over changeups and 12-6 curves and not hit the ball into the shift so much.

    Of course, he is too great to consider these things.

  23. CMP says:

    Worst thing for Teix was AGon coming to the Red Sux. Now everyone is on his ass because he looks bad in comparison.

  24. James says:

    From what I’m seeing, (and echoed above) he’s way more open and also has more movement in his stance while batting lefty. In 2008 and 2009 he was much quieter in the box. It’s also apparent when he’s batting righty. He’s much more closed and quiet as a right-handed hitter. I’m not saying guys who switch hit have the exact same stance both ways, but it seems to me and just about everyone else, that all Texeira does is pull the ball from the left side in 2010-2011. I seem to remember him going the other way a lot more in 2009.

  25. Guns of the Navarone says:

    Although no one here is a scout or trained hitting coach, I think what’s fairly obvious to everyone is how much more open his stance is this year. It looks as though his front leg is on the corner of the batters box. I’m wondering if this could have anything to do with the hamstring injury he suffered last postseason.

    We’ve heard rumblings about how hamstring injuries affect a pitcher’s mechanics. Would it do the same for hitters? Would that cause Teixeira to change his stance in order to perhaps feel more comfortable in the box?

  26. Westcoastyankfan says:

    It looks like the Kevin Long fix that Granderson has applied. He’s keeping both hands on the bat through the zone as opposed to letting the back off like Pujols. I think the reasoning is to stay back longer.

  27. Steven says:

    Re-visiting this a few days later, with a slightly different spin…

    I was keeping an eye on Tex and Cano’s ABs in the 8th inning, and I saw a stark difference in the way that both used their back legs (in this case, their left legs). Tex dipped down with his back leg, while Cano kept his back leg relatively stiff (with a small amount of knee flex, which is ideal) and fired through to his target with it.

    I’m a right-handed golfer, so I thought of the following analogy – When you spin backwards, you resist with your right leg, and it stays in the same spot, and then you fire through with that leg. You always know where you’re firing from. If you don’t fully resist with that back leg, it’s a weaker spin back, and if your leg moves, you have to get yourself back to the previous spot to successfully deliver everything to the ball. This is certainly possible, and it’s possible to do well, but it’s more difficult. I wonder if that kind of back leg movement throws off Teixeira’s timing at times (while the lack of movement from Cano keeps him away from prolonged slumps).

    In the HR videos above from 09 and earlier this year, Tex is keeping his back leg in a fairly strong position and pushing off nicely. It’s very possible that he’s dipping down to try to hit the ball with an uppercut, rather than coming at the ball from a position of strength with a level swing, which would give him the power to all fields that we all enjoy. I want to keep an eye on him over the next few days to see if this actually appears to be his problem….or if it’s something else that I’m not quite skilled enough to diagnose.

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