Aug
03

Mark Teixeira’s recent hot streak

By

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Two weeks ago, Mark Teixeira returned to the Bronx to kick off a ten-game homestand with a .240/.344/.493 season batting line, above-average on-base and power numbers, but hardly what we’ve come to expect from the $180M first baseman. He was stuck in an ugly short-term rut (.200/.222/.257 in the first eight games after the All-Star break) and a disappointing long-term slump (.232/.327/.460 in his previous 343 PA). The terms “slump” is relative here, because that’s basically a league average OBP with a stellar .228 ISO. Either way, Tex was looking pretty bad at the plate.

Then he returned home, and then things started to go his way. Teixeira homered and drew two walks in the first game of the homestand, and over the full ten games he went 13-for-39 (.333) with four homers, five walks, and just six strikeouts. A pair of hits on Monday opened the road trip, and last night Tex picked up three more hits, including a homerun from each side of the plate. His season batting line is up to .256/.352/.527, which is much more pleasing to the eye than that .240-something monstrosity from two weeks ago.

If you take a look at the spray charts since the start of the homestand, you’ll see that Teixeira really isn’t doing anything differently. He’s still extremely pull happy (here’s the spray chart vs. RHP, vs. LHP), so it’s not like he’s shortened up in an effort to dunk the ball into the opposite field or anything. Or maybe he has and it just hasn’t yielded any results yet, who knows. Tex’s season BABIP sat at .226 coming into the homestand but has since risen to .236, and you can see the gradual improvement here…

I remember seeing at least two balls eke their way through the shift on the homestand, and that’s part of the regression monster. Tex has definitely changed his approach since coming to the Yankees, making a conscious attempt to hit more fly balls, presumably in an effort to take advantage of the short porch. There’s nothing wrong with trying to hit for more power, but more fly balls means a lower BABIP, and that means a lower batting average. A lower batting average means a lower OBP, and OBP is king. In fact, if Tex had a league average walk rate this year (8.2%) instead of his current 11.4%, his season OBP would be .320. I don’t want to think about what it would be without those eight hit-by-pitches.

Anyway, we don’t have to worry about that. Drawing walks is most certainly a skill and getting hit by pitches is also skill (to a lesser extent), so it’s not like Teixeira is lucking into his OBP. Hit Tracker says just one of his 31 homers this year was “lucky,” this shot in the third game of the season, and I don’t think we’d have any disagreement about the enormity of his power. He was struggling in the worst way two weeks ago, and it can be particularly ugly when Teixeira struggles. He’ll pop the ball up on the infield or swing over top of offspeed pitches, which is as frustrating as it gets. He’s not doing that at the moment and appears to be on the his way towards another one of his hot streaks, when he’ll look like the best player on the planet.

Categories : Offense

77 Comments»

  1. Yank The Frank says:

    Just in time for Boston.

  2. David, Jr. says:

    Why on earth would anybody be slightly worried about Mark Teixeira? I have read some of this junk about him, and it baffles me. Forty home runs, gobs of RBIs, Gold Glove defense, plays hurt. What do people want?

    • NJ_Andy says:

      “gobss of RBI’s” –> Not really a selling point, in and of itself. That’s a product of the lineup around him.

      Tex is great, but what everyone wants is the guy he used to be who’s triple slash was closer to 290/380/560 than his current line.

    • Tom from GA says:

      What do people want?

      Babe-Ruth excellence and a steely-eyed gaze in the face of danger. That’s the least we should expect since he’s collecting on that $180 mil. And by golly, if the bullpen blows it, that’s his fault, too.

    • They want Mark Teixiera to be Lou Gehrig 2.0, since he’s being paid a lot of money.

      Signing a $180M contract means it’s permanent open season on you and fans/media get to demand complete and utter perfection at all times or you’re a bum. It’s the way of the world.

      • David, Jr. says:

        If you look at it through the lens of performance versus contract, the team does have one anchor, and it isn’t Tex.

        • CS Yankee says:

          Thought we had at least three?…AJ, Jete & Arod.

          I really don’t care about the anchor thoughts, this boat has more than enough HP to overcome any negative $ per WAR.

          Relax and enjoy as things seem to be forming quite nicely.

      • Now Batting says:

        Or maybe we want him to match his career OPS and stop hitting 50 points below it like he has for the last two seasons so far.

      • Sayid J. says:

        Well no, but signing that contract does imply maintaining an expected level of production for several years. Not to say I’m disappointed by Tex’s performance, but if Tex were a career .256/.352/.527 before signing with the Yankees, there’s no way he touches $180 million. So no, I’m not disappointed with him, but I don’t think the criticism is unwarranted either.

    • Will (the other one) says:

      What do people want?

      People want the player the Yankees signed three years ago–a first baseman who slugged at his current rate while still hitting .290+ and getting on base at close to a .400 clip. They want Monster Tex, not Really Good Tex. Whether you agree with them or not, of course, is a different story.

    • Mister Delaware says:

      Personally, I want atleast a .375 OBP and .225 isoP. So he’s halfway to making me happy.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I tend to agree that people were overselling his struggles, though I would also acknowledge that he was struggled at times.

      The problem to me was really that some people were acting like those struggles meant he’d inevitably continue to struggle in the future or even that he was in an irreversible decline. Could be that he will not reverse his decline/stagnation, but it’s far from a forgone conclusion at 31 years old.

      So, what bugged me about it wasn’t that people acknowledged that he was struggling so much as when they projected that into the future representing their statements as if they were definitive.

  3. Jim S says:

    Fortunately you don’t have to think about what it would be without his 8 HBP. They count too.

  4. Gerald "Where's My Monument" Williams says:

    I was kind of wondering how Tex went from a .300 hitter to a .245 hitter? I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Tex, but it seems like his batting stance is wayyyyyyyyyy to open now and he tries to jack everything. If he would hit the ball to the opposite field we’d be talking about a MVP candidate because lord knows this guy plays AMAZING defense. Any thoughts?

  5. Gerald "Where's My Monument" Williams says:

    I was kind of wondering how Tex went from a .300 hitter to a .245 hitter? I mean don’t get me wrong, I love Tex, but it seems like his batting stance is wayyyyyyyyyy too open now and he tries to jack everything. If he would hit the ball to the opposite field we’d be talking about a MVP candidate because lord knows this guy plays AMAZING defense. Any thoughts?

    • Jim S says:

      Did you read the article?

      He’s been trying to hit more fly balls to take advantage of YS3, and fewer fly balls fall in for hits than liners/ground balls.

      Plus he’s up to ~.260 now.

    • Crime Dog says:

      Because baseball’s hard. If Willy Mo Pena could hit a curveball, he’d be a monster. If Rink Ankiel could’ve thrown strikes he would’ve been a dynamite pitcher. Just because Tex is a great player doesn’t mean he doesn’t have limitations

    • Dave says:

      Giambi curse? Power hitting first baseman who used to hit for average, comes to NY and tries to hit every ball into the short porch in right.

    • CP says:

      Before joining the Yankees, he had a career batting line of .290/.378/.541/.919 134OPS+

      Since joining the Yankees, he has a batting line of .270/.369/.524/.893 132OPS+

      So he didn’t go from a .300 hitter to a .245 hitter. Overall, most of his decline appears to be tied to the league wide drop in offense over the last two years and not necessarily something specific to Tex.

  6. CP says:

    Hmmm…. the last negative RAB post about Tex was on 7/20. Since that time he’s hit .345/.393/.709/1.103.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  7. jsbrendog says:

    teix hot streak + arod coming back with another FU hot streak = profit?

    • Mike HC says:

      Our lineup has the potential to carry us to a WS title if everything comes together at the right time.

    • Nigel Bangs says:

      (and the award for “duh” comment goes to…)

      Man do I hope Alex comes back and destroys. Watching him play like a walking Hall-of-Famer is among my favorite activities.

  8. Kostas says:

    This may have already been covered but since the post is about Tex showing he does remember how to swing the bat, John Sterling mentioned last night during the game that Kevin Long was working with Tex. Apparently, they found that he was keeping his front foot in the air too long and that was contributing to the pop ups and lack of drive. They are working on getting that front foot down quicker, making it a shorter pick up – similar to ARod’s leg kick issues.

    Don’t know if there was more but with all the singles he is hitting and the decrease of pop ups, this is a good sign.

  9. My Boy Blue says:

    Don’t worry. Boston will drill Tex in his 1st at bat at Fenway and he’ll fall back into a slump for another 3 weeks. That’s their game plan. It worked last time. He was on fire, they drilled him and he curled up into a ball for a very long time.

    The hot streaks, this season, are blips from him. That said, when he’s hot, he’s on fire. If the guy had a bit of consistency this season he’d be an MVP candidate. As it stands, he’s not the hitter he was prior to coming here batting average wise and should not be occupying the 3 hole for this team in the future. He’s a power/masher now. A couple of weeks ago people stopped comparing him to Giambi and started comparing him to Carlos Pena.

  10. Mike HC says:

    Seems like the usual Tex season to me. Solid first half and spectacular second half. We also forget sometimes that CC is a known second half beast as well.

  11. Stuckey says:

    Frankly I find the “what you expect from an $XXX ballplayer” or “earning his salary” rational to be, in a word, knuckleheaded. But it’s a staple ’round here, and when I say ’round here, I mean the bloggers, not just the commentors.

    Seeing it comes off as something in the vein when fans cite RBI or W-L as a metric to evaluate performance to some of your advance stats guys – just lacking any intellectual relevance.

    Players are given contracts based on past performance. Yes, teams try to USE that as a tool to project future performance, but in a league where veteran contracts are guaranteed (unlike the NFL) there is effectively no relationship between salary and performance for veterans on long-term deals, other than a shorthand tool for fans to whine.

    RAB should get out in front of getting beyond that… way beyond it.

    • Mike HC says:

      You might be alone in thinking how much money you make should have nothing to do with how much you produce.

      • Dirty Pena says:

        So we should fully expect Gardner and Robertson to suck ass?

        • Mike HC says:

          Nailed it. That is exactly what I meant.

          • Dirty Pena says:

            Well, Teixeira is highly paid because there was a high demand for him. He’s one of the top 10 highest paid players in baseball- that doesn’t mean he is going to be one of the top 10 players in baseball, nor should we expect him to be.

            • Mike HC says:

              I’m not saying money is the only thing that should go into expectations. I’m just saying it is a legitimate way to analyze a players production. Gardner and Robertson’s production is that much more valuable because of how little they are being paid.

              • Ted Nelson says:

                I think it’s a legitimate way of analyzing a team’s construction more than a players’ production… unless you are analyzing the direct relationship between salary and performance.

                I wouldn’t hold getting the most $ against a free agent/arb guy and judge Teixeira’s performance any differently if he were getting paid $10 mill or $5 mill. I would judge his agent differently and also the Yankees’ FO, though.

                • Mike HC says:

                  Right. It is about understanding team construction, and paying Tex so much money prevents us from signing another top level player who can give us top level production. So when analyzing Tex’s production on the season, it makes sense to look at it in the big picture, and understanding how a team distributes its money directly effects wins and losses. Everyone understands that how big a pay check you get doesn’t literally help you hit better.

                  • Dirty Pena says:

                    Well I guess I misinterpreted your original point. Of course you should evaluate a team based on the contracts they give, I just don’t think its fair to make the blanket statement that “Player X makes X amount, therefore he should produce X amount.”

                  • Stuckey says:

                    So how can that information be newly useful?

                    I haven’t learned anything new about Tex’s contract and it’s impact on the Yankees payroll in over 3 years, what’s left to analyze?

                  • Ted Nelson says:

                    Again… that’s a team thing, not an individual player thing. I understand what you’re saying, and I am not saying that you are saying getting paid more helps you hit better. I am pointing out the difference between evaluating a player’s performance and evaluating him as part of a team.

                    I see no reason to hold it against a player for getting what he thought was the best deal in free agency… unless what he felt was the best deal seems far from fair… but that’s really an individual decision. If you want to pitch for the Royals for the league min when the Yankees are offering you $10 mill, that’s your call.

                    I would hold it against a team for signing a guy to a ridiculous deal, or complement them for getting a good value when signing a player.

        • Dirty Pena says:

          Let me expand: the amount of money you make is tied to how long you’ve been in the majors, and the demand for your services. If all 30 major league teams want Bartolo Colon this offseason, and someone ended up giving him 10 years/$300 million, we shouldn’t therefore “expect” him to be the 2nd coming of Tom Seaver for the next 10 years.

          • Mike HC says:

            But apparently the team that signed him for $300 million expects that.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              So it seems to me like it should color your analysis of the team more than your analysis of the player. Teixeira’s performance is what it is regardless of what he’s making.

              • Mike HC says:

                It is both.

                • Ted Nelson says:

                  Why are 32 HRs different for a guy who made $1 mill last season than a guy who made $20 mill? Only from the team perspective. From the individual perspective both guys did the same thing. (HRs obviously not being a total measure of production, just using that as an easy example.)

                  Basically… those HRs were more valuable to the team, but they were not more valuable to the player. In fact, player 1 got pretty well screwed over.

      • Stuckey says:

        Probably, but what relevance does “should” have, again, other than a shorthand for fan complaining?

        If people have complaints that players aren’t TRYING hard enough, that they are out-of-shape, seem indifferent to their struggles, or have some indication players aren’t working with coaches or in the offseason to TRY to maintain and improve their performance, that’s one thing.

        But to say a player “should” get better results because of how much he makes I acknowledge is a common conclusion, but that doesn’t make it smart one.

        Once you can get over the rather immature response to be bitter over a player just not performing well despite his efforts, the game is a lot more fun.

        • Mike HC says:

          Maybe one day I will be free of those shackles and see the light that how much money a player makes is meaningless in any analysis of his production, but today is not that day.

          • Stuckey says:

            That’s too bad for you.

            In my mind, the whole PURPOSE of analysis is discovery, and the value of that is to try to use the data to improve, or learn something new.

            Better advanced statistical metrics may help a team better identify productive free agents, or which players to sign or how much they are worth (when that DECISION is relevant).

            Maybe analysis of Teixeira’s batting trends can help HIM tweak his approach to improve his performance.

            But “analyzing” his performance (a variable) against his salary (a constant) doesn’t tell us anything new or useful.

            Nothing can be done with information, OTHER than to use it as the basis of complaint, which is my original point.

            You haven’t presented an argument for its purpose other than lots of people like to do it and you do too.

            • Mike HC says:

              “You haven’t presented an argument for its purpose other than lots of people like to do it and you do too.”

              What else is there in this world?

              • Stuckey says:

                If you have to ask…:-)

                • Mike HC says:

                  haha … although I’m a bit confused. Are you saying I’m ignorant of the things people are forced to do that they don’t like?

                  • Stuckey says:

                    Not sure I understand the question.

                    I’m saying “but I like it” is the end any debate – any and all discussion.

                    You’re always going to win the argument of what you happen to like to do.

                    Whether what you like as any value beyond that is a different argument.

      • Cris Pengiuci says:

        That’s not exactly what he said.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      I would say it should reflect more on the team than the player in most cases. Not necessarily for one season or if a guy gains 30 lbs after he signs… but generally I would hold it against the team if they sign a guy who underperforms over the life of a contract as a whole. And even then I usually wouldn’t kill them for it unless it was really obvious going into the deal and it most likely stopped them from signing other better value players.

      A lot of people seem to blur the line between player and team and just be generally frustrated.

      I would not hold it against a player for getting as much money as they can, though.

      I would also say that the frustration isn’t just about $, but also about potential vs. production. Tex is probably capable of having a better season than this one, because he’s done so in the past and is only 31. I see your point about the $ specific frustration, though.

    • David, Jr. says:

      I disagree with this. It is based upon league wide demand, which is created by expected performance. Elements that would go into expected performance are age, past performance, health, trends, intangibles, and perceived fit with a new team.

      If what you are saying had truth, teams would be lined up to pay somebody like Posada a fortune because of his past performance.

      • Ted Nelson says:

        I agree with you about the expectations part, but I agree with Stuckey that $ should not matter for us fans in evaluating a player’s performance. I think it should matter in evaluating a team’s performance, though.

        • David, Jr. says:

          I basically agree. Once the contract is given out, it is a done deal. The only thing is that as fans, maybe we like the team to be smart in what they do.

          • Ted Nelson says:

            That’s what I’m saying. It’s a team thing, not a player thing. The player performed the way he performed regardless of how he was paid. In evaluating them individually on nothing more than performance their $ seems irrelevant, but as part of a team it is very relevant.

      • Stuckey says:

        I don’t think anything I said implied otherwise, but OF COURSE I’m not discounting age, health, RECENT performance and some measure of expected performance in being factors.

        Nothing I wrote equates to giving Jorge Posada a big contract because of what he did 4 years ago or his career line. IN fact, MOST recent performance is and probably should be the most weighted factor.

        • David, Jr. says:

          I was just using him as an example. What I mean is that the demand and therefore the contract is driven by expected performance. I thought that you had said that players were paid on the basis of past performance.

        • David, Jr. says:

          “Players are given contracts based on past performance. Yes, teams try to USE that as a tool to project future performance, but in a league where veteran contracts are guaranteed (unlike the NFL) there is effectively no relationship between salary and performance for veterans on long-term deals, other than a shorthand tool for fans to whine.”

          Actually that is what you first flatly said, although you then qualified it somewhat.

          I would say that if there is no relationship between salary and performance for a veteran player, that would mean that when the contract was entered into, past performance was weighted too highly compared to the other factors – age, trending, health, etc.

    • Ana says:

      Thank you!!

      Salary literally has nothing to do with on-field performance, and saying, “I expect X because a player is making Y money” is stupid. As has been said, contracts reflect on the team, not on the individual player. It’s valid to say “I wish the Yankees had gotten Teixeira/Jeter/Burnett/Posada/etc. for X less money than they did.” However, counting salary in your evaluation of how well the player is playing is …. you know, just not smart.

      • David, Jr. says:

        I would say that it isn’t the players fault if he is given a contract that is beyond a reasonable expectation of his future performance. However, we can hope as fans that such contracts are not continually given out.

        • Ana says:

          I agree with that completely. But that’s on management, and the amount of money a player makes isn’t a factor in evaluating his on-field success.

  12. Sayid J. says:

    I find it difficult to conclude that Tex is hitting more fly balls on purpose. Yes, his fly ball numbers have increased, but we have absolutely no basis to say that he is ‘consciously’ try to do that.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Yeah, that’s a good point. It’s pretty much speculation unless there are quotes from him or at least someone in the org. saying he’s doing it on purpose. It’s not baseless speculation, though, since it’s totally possible the short-porch would incentivize a pull, pop-up approach.

  13. NC Saint says:

    Enormity, Mike?

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