Apr
16

The Teixeira Analysis: The Right-Handed Batter

By

Over the next few days I’m going to spend some time analyzing Mark Teixeira‘s offensive performance, one of the most polarizing topics in Yankeeland. We’re going to start with the piece of the equation that actually isn’t a problem.

(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

During his three full seasons with the Yankees, Mark Teixeira’s overall offensive performance has declined each year. He put up a .410 wOBA with the Braves and Angels during his walk year in 2008, then put together a still stellar .402 wOBA during his first year in New York. That dropped to a .367 wOBA in 2010, then again to a .361 wOBA in 2009. Now a .361 wOBA is still really good — more than 20% better than the league average — but it’s not up to the lofty standards Teixeira has set for himself with his past production and contract.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of Teixeira’s declining offense, the very first thing we have to understand is that we’re dealing with two different hitters. As a switch-hitter, there’s a right-handed version of Teixeira and a left-handed version of Teixeira. They’re two different hitters with two different swings and two different sets of tendencies. Lumping the two together doesn’t help us identify the problem.

Overall Performance

Here’s a look at the right-handed hitting version of Teixeira over the last five full seasons, the guy that tees off against left-handed pitchers…

AVG ISO wOBA BB% K% HR/CON BABIP
2007 0.357 0.208 0.430 11.9% 18.6% 4.9% 0.422
2008 0.303 0.179 0.393 16.5% 11.4% 3.6% 0.321
2009 0.305 0.207 0.389 12.2% 12.7% 6.0% 0.312
2010 0.278 0.250 0.403 17.0% 14.8% 6.8% 0.290
2011 0.302 0.286 0.410 10.2% 11.6% 9.0% 0.278

HR/CON is homers per plate appearances with contact, the most accurate way to measure over-the-fence power.

Aside from the typical year-to-year ebbs and flows, Teixeira has been a consistently elite producer as a right-handed hitter since 2007. His strikeout and walk rates are both much better than the league average, he’s a .300 hitter (.306 to be exact), and his power output has actually increased each year. Because he’s hit more and more homers against lefties in recently years, his BABIP has dropped. Homers don’t count as balls in play because the defense never gets a chance to actually field them. That’s why his batting average has remained steady despite the BABIP drops; he’s traded some singles and doubles for homers. I’ll take that trade every day of the week.

Batted Ball Profile

Outside of a pretty big outlier in 2008, Teixeira’s batted ball profile as a right-handed hitter hasn’t changed much in the last half-decade (and dating back even further than that)…

GB% FB% LD% IFFB% HR/FB%
2007 39.3% 36.9% 23.8% 2.5% 13.3%
2008 50.9% 29.6% 19.5% 3.0% 14.0%
2009 41.3% 38.0% 20.7% 6.0% 15.8%
2010 41.2% 38.5% 20.3% 3.4% 17.5%
2011 37.3% 42.8% 19.9% 4.8% 21.1%

Remember, the batted ball information we have these days isn’t perfect, especially when it comes to balls right on the fly ball/line drive bubble. Teixeira hit a few more air balls against lefties last year, but nothing insane. The continued rise in his HR/FB% jives with his increased homer rate, but otherwise there hasn’t been much of a change through the years. That’s a good thing, because Teixeira is a monster from the right side and any change at this point is unlikely to be positive.

Pitch Profile

Whenever you’re successful at something, the opposition is going to adjust. Here’s a look at how pitchers have attacked the right-handed hitting version of Teixeira over the last four years…

Fastballs Changeups Curveballs Sliders Misc.
2008 64.7% 16.6% 12.3% 6.1% 0.3%
2009 61.0% 14.5% 10.5% 13.8% 0.1%
2010 62.2% 18.5% 7.2% 11.7% 0.3%
2011 61.3% 17.4% 10.0% 11.1% 0.1%

PitchFX data only goes back so far, and anything pre-2008 is unreliable. Even 2008 is pretty sketchy, but anything from 2009 through today is a-okay. Pitchers haven’t been approaching Teixeira any differently in recent years, he’s still seeing the same amount of fastballs and just a touch more changeups.

Teixeira is a difficult guy to pitch to because he always has the platoon advantage. Most left-handed pitchers are fastball-slider guys, and the slider typically isn’t as effective against batters of the opposite hand unless you’re talking a Randy Johnson, CC Sabathia, Madison Bumgarner type of slider. Teixeira has only seen one breaking ball out of every five pitches as a righty over the last few years, and the league hasn’t shown much inclination to adjust. Perhaps that’s a sample size issue, perhaps most left-handed pitchers just aren’t good enough to mix it up any more than they do.

* * *

Teixeira’s offensive problems over the last two years are exclusively limited to his left-handed swing. He still hits for a high average with light tower power from the right side while also drawing walks and avoiding strikeouts. It’s the lesser used half of the platoon, but righty Tex isn’t a problem. Tomorrow we’ll begin breaking down the left-handed hitting version of Teixeira, starting with his overall performance before figuring out where exactly the decline is coming from.

Categories : Analysis
  • Guest

    Aaaaaand this is why we come here and we coming back time and time again…so good, so very good.

    Excellent analysis as usual, Mike. Can’t wait to see the breakdown of his struggles from the left side of the plate. His BABIP from the right side has dropped, but not a crazy amount. Plus, as the article notes, it appears to be from the fact that he is hitting more HR’s from the right side than in the past.

    His BABIP from the left side on the other hand…not pretty. Very not pretty.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      +1

  • Liam in NY

    I think you meant 2008 as his walk year in Atl/Ana

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    If he continues to suck from the left side of the plate, I wonder if it would be even a consideration for him to bat exclusively right handed though I definitely think it would be way premature to consider at this time time since K-Long is supposedly reworking his left handed swing.

    • jjyank

      That sounds good in theory, but will likely not solve the problem. How long has it been since Tex has seen the release point of a righty while batting as a righty? He’s so far removed from that (probably little league, if ever) that I don’t see how he can be a productive right handed hitter while facing righties. It would probably just be easier to fix his lefty swing.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        You’re probably right but I’ve seen minor league players give up switch hitting if they’ve been particularly useless from one side so I don’t think it’s impossible.

        • jjyank

          It’s not impossible of course, but those guys in the minors have the luxury of developing that same-sided approach in the minors. Plus roughly 10-12 years in age. I doubt the ravenous New York media and its fans would give Tex a very long leash if he tries to make that change. Like I said, it sounds good based of Tex’s righty numbers, but it would probably be easier to fix the lefty swing.

          • Manny’s BanWagon

            What’s kind of funny is that you’d think as time went on, Tex would become more proficient hitting lefty and his right handed swing would deteriorate like what happened with Posada and Bernie Williams (if I recall correctly) since they get so much more practice hitting from the left side.

            For Tex, the opposite seems to be happening. I wonder if he’s a natural right handed hitter who learned to also hit lefty.

            • jjyank

              He probably is a natural righty, but I’m too lazy to research it right now. Just playing the percentage game (more righties than lefties in the world) that’s a safe bet and might be a component of the drop off on his swing.

              That’s a good point about practice from the left side. You’d think it would keep him sharp in theory. I refuse to believe it’s entirely a mental “short porch in right is too appealing” thing. May be part of it, but something else is going on there.

              • Manny’s BanWagon

                Good point about the short porch since what’s happening to Tex from the left side looks similar to what happened to Giambi.

                They transitioned from high batting average lefty power hitters who could go the other way to dead pull lefty hitters often screwed by the shift who saw their batting averages and OBP drop significantly.

          • Bubba

            Given his production as a LHB facing RHP, isn’t the bar set kind of low?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yeah, definitely premature. We’re talking about a guy two years removed from an MVP caliber offensive performance with a long, long track record. Dropping switch hitting is an absolute last resort.

      • JoeyA

        While I’ve been very vocal on here re: Tex’s LH swing ans generally agree that dropping the LH swing altogether is a last resort, ultimately, the Yankees and Tex have to ask themselves…

        …If LH & RH Tex are 2 different batters, would you rather have a mismatched RH Tex against a RH pitcher with Tex’s RH stats or a more favorable matchup of LH Tex against RH pitcher, even tho the hitter you’re getting is far and aways less productive.

        IMO, if you treat them as 2 different ppl, say Player X & Player Y, I’ll take Player X (exclusive RH hitter with great stats) over Player Y (LH hitter with less production, but is a more favorable matchup given the RH pitcher.) any day of the week.

        Tex hitting LH against a RH pitcher is ultimately putting in a worse offensive batter strictly due to the lefty-righty matchup.

        Again, ditching the LH swing altogether is questionable but maybe it’s something to consider against righty pitchers that arent hard-throwers, as I would imagine the transition agianst those pitchers wouldnt be as hard.

        Just my 2 cents, which are worth little to nothing.

        • jjyank

          The problem with basing that logic on Tex’s RH stats, is that all those stats were accrued when facing lefties on the mound. There’s no data out there to determine if RH Tex can remain elite or even productive against same-sided pitchers. We can guess, but that’s about it.

  • blake

    Nice post. Its as simple as Teixera’s swing is better from the right side…its shorter….its flatter…and he keeps the bat in the zone longer..because of this he has more margin for error…he can use the whole field …and can be more consistent.

  • Monterowasdinero

    His stances are fairly different from each side. Not sure if this matters. I just think he is dead red from the left side and is very vulnerable to good offspeed stuff. Most of the post season righties get him out this way. Of course, he will get in hitter’s counts over a long season and get his share of fbs to slam. He’ll get 2-0, 2-1 off speed stuff in the post season when the going gets tougher.

    • Slugger27

      i think hes just chasing more. hes always done his damage on fastballs, thats nothing new. but earlier in his career he seemed to lay off curveballs off the plate away, or changeups in the dirt. seems to me the last 2 years hes chased more pitches out of the zone, and therefore made more bad contact.

      people make too much out of the shift. it certainly doesnt help, but BA dropping 45 or whatever points? theres more to it than the shift.

  • nyyank55

    Unless he gets rid of that bat waggle of his, he will continue to decline. The older he gets, the more his bat will slow down. It’s hard enough fighting father time as a player ages, but in Mark’s case he isn’t doing himself any favors by not adjusting. The only player I can think of that was productive for most of his career with that much movement in his bat was Dave Winfield. I’m sure K-Long will eventually have him make that adjustment. All you have to do is watch the elite hitters in the game like Cano, Pujols, A-Rod, et. al. and you realize what a quiet bat can do. Plus, with less moving parts, the more consistent the swing will become making a long term slump less likely.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Swish and Grandy both got “quieter” in the last few years. Tex has plenty of waggle from the right AND left side so that is not the whole story.

    • Slugger27

      of all the things wrong with tex’s swing, you pick the one insignificant pre-swing timing/rhythm mechanism he uses to criticize?

      you do know he wiggles the bat and rocks back and forth a little when hitting right handed, right? and he mashes right handed.

      besides, theres been plenty of hitters that wiggle the bat: griffey jr, bagwell… even youkilis

      • jjyank

        Yeah, I doubt there’s any correlation between production and bat-waggle. Plenty of guys move the bat around and are successful, and plenty of guys are statues and are not.

        I don’t know what exactly is wrong with lefty Tex, but I doubt it is the bat movement. Right as the pitch comes in, he stops the movement anyway, it’s just used as a pre-pitch timing thing.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        FACT: Gary Sheffield was such an ass because of that bat wiggle.

    • handtius

      sheff. nuff said.

  • Havok9120

    Very good article, but my first thought was,

    “Uh oh. This could get messy.”

    • jjyank

      Heh, yeah I’m not looking forward to the comments on tomorrow’s article on the lefty swing.

  • David Ortizs Dealer

    I think left handed his issue starts with his stance, IMHO set up that open all he can do is is pull / roll it over.

    • Slugger27

      but he had the same stance in 2009 when he hit like an MVP

      • Havok9120

        And for years before that.

        I mean, sure, maybe his bat slowed down just enough to make the stance untenable, but I doubt it.

      • David Ortizs Dealer

        I’d have to watch old video, maybe youtube has some but I think overtime he’s become more open from the left side, I know there are very few guys who get their feet / shoulders square (like Jeter) it seems everyone is a few degrees open. But most guys who start open then make a move to close up as the pitch starts. I think that Tex is so open he cant get close enough to square to be in a good hitting position on an outside pitch. Ditto for Car Crahfihd.

        • Slugger27

          i have the 2009 world series dvd, and watch it every 6 months or so. he definitely has an open stance.

          i dont think it matters though anyway, he seems to be in a good position as the pitch is actually about to be thrown, so im not sure its important regardless.

    • Monterowasdinero

      And he’s open from the right side.

      • David Ortizs Dealer

        Not nearly as open.

  • Tex, the real Big Poppi

    The shift is killing him. Teams shift him more than they did in 09. By hitting righties right-handed he would miss the left porch, but would also dump the shift against him. He is not going to adjust his swing, as he recently mentioned. Buck S. told him to swing for the fences and sounds like Girardi sings the same song. As long as he hits 30/100 its all good, but thinking about this for the next 5 years sucks. when the game is on the line, I would rather see any one of the hitters in the lineup at the plate except for him. Its painful watching him hit into the shift and hope to thread the needle.

    • David Ortizs Dealer

      The shift doesnt help, if he is going to deposit 99% of his grounders in one place. Why not overshift.

      • Tex, the real Big Poppi

        Watching him hit, it sure looks like he is trying to hit over the shift and into the seats, but that uppercut swing is ugly as hell. The shift is in his head and the only remedy he sees is jacking one. Its fine for say, JoVa or Dunn, but Tex gets paid enough to go the other way every once in a while.
        Will Tex be offended if Cano invited him to his ass kicking off-season camp? maybe Mark could learn a thing or two about hitting the other way.

  • Monterowasdinero

    So we’ve discussed the waggle and the foot placement.

    Any difference in the cheek puff from either side?

    • Havok9120

      I’ve noticed that he definitely turns his head more toward the crowd when batting from the right side.

      I’m surprised KLong hasn’t noticed that and duplicated it for the left side. He’s losing his touch.

  • jim p

    I hope the lefty analysis will have the data with which to cover the shift. Some people say it doesn’t make that much of a difference, but there is the fact that his left side production has gone down as the shift has been used more. A causal link can’t easily be dismissed, imo. Sometimes correlation does mean causation.

    http://xkcd.com/552/

  • Dick Gozinya

    I’m having a great time reading the comments from all these hitting coaches. I’m willing to bet that the majority of people leaving comments haven’t a live pitch from the batter’s box since high school.

    Rest easy folks, I’m sure that Kevin Long has an idea of what he is doing.

    • Tex, the real Big Poppi

      Not a hitting coach here, but I did notice that Kevin Long has not done shit to help Mark yet. He did have his chance for at least the 2 years of steady decline. But we do have 5 years left, is what you are saying I guess…

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Not a hitting coach here, but I did notice that Kevin Long has not done shit to help Mark yet.

        You’re confusing a lack of results with a lack of effort.

        • Tex, the real Big Poppi

          You are right.
          Kevin Long’s effort to help Mark has not been realized. But to say “Rest easy folks, I’m sure that Kevin Long has an idea of what he is doing” after nothing is changing is not fair. Maybe KL has an idea, but it isn’t working. He needs a new idea or a new approach to Tex.
          Not sure if he tried to help DJ last year, but a few days with DJ’s old hitting instructor turned the clock for him. KLong’s work with Granderson is obvious success but to say he has an idea with Tex is a bit far out. Just sayin…

          • Monterowasdinero

            He certainly didn’t help Jeter. He knows what he is doing of course and is well respected but…

            sometimes it just doesn’t work.

            • Dick Gozinya

              You’re right, so I bet he turned to the comments section in a blog to see what he might be doing wrong.

              When I see people say shit like, “his stance is too open” or “he drops his back shoulder” I get a real kick out of it. Someone get Cashman on the horn and start paying these people quickly!

              Its the second week of the season. Relax.

            • Adam Parker

              In Jeter’s case, I think he knows more about hitting than Kevin Long does… atleast as far as his swing goes.

          • Dick Gozinya

            Well if KLong can’t help him, I’m sure one of these glory day 4 hole hitters can help him out!

            For the record, I’m making fun of the commenters who think they know what is wrong with Tex’s stroke.

            Mike, this is a great piece and the reason so many of us love coming to this blog multiple times a day. Keep up the great work, sir.

            • Tex, the real Big Poppi

              There is nothing wrong with people saying that his stance is too open or closed. Its a Yankee blog for fans to do just that. Shooting the shit and giving Tex advice is two different things.
              When do you think we, “the hitting coaches who hit last in little league” will see the results from KLong’s work with Tex? i believe he has had enough time to make positive changes, but then again, i haven’t hit since t-ball….

              • Dick Gozinya

                No, I’m just saying I get a good laugh at the armchair hitting coaches.

                I also said I’d wager that the majority of the internet hitting coaches out there haven’t seen a live pitch from the batters box since high school, but by all means focus on that.

                Any good tips on my golf swing while we are at it?

    • David Ortizs Dealer

      FWIW I think Kevin Long and I are tied on MLB’s all-time hits list.

  • J

    This is the kind of post that makes RAB great. The Yankees have to be privy of this type of information I hope. If not, they need to start heading over here.

    • Havok9120

      The blogosphere is correct when they say that the clubs have more access to and more analysis of baseball data than we could ever hope to compute properly.

      That said, its nice when Cashman mentions Fangrapghs. Nice to see they don’t all sit in their ivory towers saying “only WE know the way, be silent peon.”

  • CC

    More recycled material…….LOL………….I guess since Joe did most of the past write-ups it’s Mike’s turn??