Mark Teixeira’s Kansas City Turnaround

Yankees claim Ryota Igarashi off waivers from Blue Jays
2012 Draft: Keith Law's Mock Draft v2.0
This baseball has left the yard. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

If anyone needed a hot start to the year, it was Mark Teixeira. After coming off a second straight season in which he fell short of expectations, everyone was expecting more. Yet Teixeira turned in yet another dismal April performance, hitting .244/.290/.395. Of course, when looking at Teixeira, April is hardly an indicator of things to come.

Last season Teixeira had the best April of his career, hitting .256/.392/.549, but we all saw how that ended. From May through September he hit .247/.332/.485, ending with a 119 OPS+ — his worst mark since his rookie season. In 2010 he got off to the worst April of his career, hitting .136/.300/.259, but hit .275/.376/.515 from May through September to finish the season with a 124 OPS+. He also started slowly in 2007, hitting .231/.346/.341, but ended the season with a 149 OPS+, which was the best of his career at that point (and is still the second best of his career).

What stood out about Teixeira’s April 2012 was his lack of walks and his lack of power. His ISO of .151 wasn’t the worst April of his career power-wise, but it ranks down there. More startling was his walk rate, just 5.4 percent, by far and wide the lowest rate of his career in April. Yet he’s turned things around on both fronts. And it all seemed to come together during the Kansas City series.

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As you can see, both his walk rate and his extra base hit rate (XBH/AB) took a nosedive early on, recovering around the same time. The XBH% stopped diving in Game 24, the first game against Kansas City, when he doubled. Three games later he drew two walks, ending the walk rate nose dive. Since then everything has trended upward, and he’s hitting .333/.425/.683 in 73 PA since they left Kansas City.

There’s another Kansas City connection, too. Teixeira sat during the Cincinnati series on the weekend of May 19th, to help alleviate the cough that has pestered him all season. Kansas City came to town right after Cincinnati, and Teixeira was back in the starting lineup. Since then he’s gone 12 for 25 with four doubles, four homers, and six walks. It’s a small stretch to be sure, but clearly something has changed with Teixeira. He’s gradually improving, and his numbers are starting to round into form.

The last two seasons have been tough for Teixeira, especially since they weren’t quite expected. When the Yankees signed him he was a proven producer who was right in the middle of his prime. Not only did he own a 134 OPS+, but he had just averaged a 150 OPS+ in his previous two seasons. A career .290/.378/.541 hitter who played a slick first base, he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who would drop off a cliff. He’s since admitted his issues, which is the first step to recovery. If this really is Teixeira’s hard work finally coming to fruition, the Yankees will have added a weapon that they mostly missed the last two years. For a team struggling to bring home runners on base, that could make a huge difference for the next 114 games.

Yankees claim Ryota Igarashi off waivers from Blue Jays
2012 Draft: Keith Law's Mock Draft v2.0
  • Robinson Tilapia

    That must have been one hell of a cough. Like what I’m seeing, though

  • AaronGuielWithASmile

    If it’s true that Tex’s bronchial infection left him with breathing trouble and unable to spend much time in the cage/weight room, it’s a little unfair write it off as just a cough.

    Hopefully he’s fully recovered and ready to hit for power again, we really need him to step up.

  • CS Yankee

    I approve this Teix message. I don’t see it as a dead-cat bounce, but rather getting back his health and trying to wait on some pitches versus going for the RF porch.

    I see him more as the 3rd/4th guy in the order, Cano 3rd/4th, Arod 5th.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      This guy’s got too much career left for us to be talking “dead cat bounce.” That’s for sure.

  • RBC

    I’m cautiously optimistic. I do like what I’ve seen the past couple of games, but it was against KC and one of the games was against a pitcher that was like 21 y.o. and pitched maybe 1 other major league game. I’d like to see what Teix can do vs. Haren tonight. But I do really hope that bronchial problem does heal itself soon, if it hasn’t already.

    • qwerty

      I doubt he’ll do every well unless Haren, unless his game is off. Let’s not forget that Tex basically got his latest hits off the dregs of the majors. I don’t think he’s faced a remotely good pitcher in the last 10 days.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        It’s too bad that hits coming off pitching not meeting a certain individual threshold actually count as 1/4 of a hit in the box score. Oh, wait, they don’t.

        There were also some pretty crappy pitchers on the mound when he wasn’t hitting. It’s not all Halladay, all the time out there.

        • #28 in 2012

          The old cliche of “doing the same thing and expecting a different result” applies here.
          Granderson, makes a change and gets much better. Arod, keeps talking to KLong and making adjustments. Jeter, makes a few changes, improves. Teixeira, changes absolutely nothing while admits that the right porch is too much to ignore and continues to do the same thing, swinging away. No change. No going the other way, no changing of the wide open stance, no adjustment of any kind. To expect a different result from him is, you know, kind of insane. All I can think is: 4 more years, 4 more years, 4 more years….

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Isn’t a major point of the post how he’s realized his mistake and has been working on it? Doesn’t counteract what you’re trying to say?

            • #28 in 2012

              You mean “he since admitted his issues, which is the first step to recovery”?
              The issue he admitted is that he listened to too many people and decided to swing for the fences instead of beating the shift. Then he beat up on KC, the A’s (with lefty Milone) and Angel’s bull pen.
              Correct me please if he discovered a mistake and now is correcting it. Maybe I missed it, but he has not changed anything except for going back to what didn’t work in the first place.

              • Robinson Tilapia

                I think I’ll go do something actually productive instead.

              • Need Pitching

                ” except for going back to what didn’t work in the first place.”

                That’s a very subjective standard. That approach diminished him from elite all-around hitter to just elite power hitter and still very good overall.
                Over the last 2 years with the pull-happy power approach, he hit 252/353/487 with 72 HR and 219 RBI with a .364 wOBA and 125 wRC+. Granted that production from a first baseman isn’t worth 22.5M/year, but it is still very good production.

          • Need Pitching

            Jeter made changes and didn’t improve, so he went back to what he did earlier in his career.

            • DT

              Yeah he gave up after 4 games last year.

  • #28 in 2012

    Isn’t this how Tex gets his numbers every year?
    He goes on a week of tearing the cover off the ball, then he slumps for 4-6 weeks, then he hits another 10 homers in one week then disappears again for a couple of months. He has to have the ugliest 30/100 of all. He can carry the team for a few days and then the team carries him for a few months.
    Great glove, but great enough for 22.5 per? The money is on the next 4 years and 114 games being infuriating when it comes to Teixeira’s hitting. Im not going to go as far as to say that dude hits mostly in garbage time, but high leverage at bats dont seem to favor Mark a whole lot.
    I hope this is a turning point and I am willing to eat my words if he continues to produce, but the last couple of years of steady unsteadiness suggest otherwise.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’m sensing an expansion of the “garbage time” meme.

      • eephus_pitch


      • Cuso

        I blame myself. I haven’t brought it up since April, though.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Ha! Just blame someone else next time. No need for this sort of honesty and transparency on here.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    He wasn’t puffing enough-you could tell. More puffs, less cough, better results.

    Case solved.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Snoop Dogg Teixeira?

      • LiterallyFigurative

        Puff Puff……Swing?

  • RetroRob

    Not sure if this is because of his work in trying reformulate his swing. Based on Teixeira’s words, might be just the opposite. He indicated his not trying to hit necessarily to the opposite field or to hit around the shift, but instead just drive the ball.

    • Alkaline

      Hm. Almost like he was thinking too much of trying to hit it the other way. If he’s just trying to drive the ball, he might have better luck. Some would think hitting to the opposite field and driving the ball would be one in the same thing, but not necessarily. Maybe just relaxing a bit and letting instinct take over is what is working. Who knows?

      • DT

        Well in KC he hit it to center-oppo from the left side. He might be just going with AB rather than forcing it to the opposite side.

  • Cuso

    Teix should use the theme song from Lucky Number Slevin, “Kansas City Shuffle” as his walk-up music.

  • O Coelho

    God!!!! What a bunch of homers!

    The reality: Both Tex and Swisher pad their numbers against bad staffs on bad teams – like KC, Oakland, etc. That’s why these guys bat closer to .150 than .250 in the playoffs.

    The folks who “write” this blog use stats when they’re pro-Yankee and rely on “gut” when they don’t. (e.g. “I see the Yanks going on a 10-of-12 streak starting tonight.”)

    One word describes this blog and its contents: INSIPID!