Yankeemetrics Season Review, Part I (The Team)

(Photo: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)
(Photo: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

Whether you think this 2015 Yankees team underachieved — heck, they had a eight-game lead in the AL East in late July — or overachieved — among the 31 experts from ESPN, SI, CBS Sports and Yahoo! Sports, only one (Buster Olney) picked the Yankees to make the playoffs — there is no doubt that this team had its share of historic and record-breaking statistical performances.

Without further adieu, let’s kick off our season-ending “Yankeemetrics” with a few notable feats from the team (and teammates) perspective. Tomorrow, we’ll tackle some individual player accomplishments.

The Yankees finished with 87 wins, the third straight season they fell short of the 90-win mark. In the previous 17 years combined from 1996-2012, the Yankees had just two sub-90 win campaigns.

Yes, the Yankees still did make the playoffs despite only 87 wins, matching the 2000 club for the fewest wins by a Yankee team that qualified for the postseason. It was their 52nd postseason appearance, by far the most of any franchise in major-league history. In fact, no other team has even made 30 postseason appearances.

Following their three-hour cameo in the postseason party (a.k.a., the Wild Card Game), the Yankees have now lost their last five postseason games. That matches the longest postseason losing streak in franchise history, done most recently in 2006-07.

Although the Yankees’ offense went into a horrible slump down the stretch, it still made huge gains overall compared to last year. The Yankees increased their scoring by 131 runs, their largest full-season year-over-year increase since 1929-30. They also increased their homer total by 65 (!), the biggest increase between full seasons in franchise history.

On the other side of the ledger, their pitching and defense was actually worse than last year. The Yankees allowed 34 more runs than in 2014, their largest year-to-year increase since 2003-04. Their three worst pitchers for the season were probably CC Sabathia (6-10, 4.73), Ivan Nova (6-11, 5.07) and Michael Pineda (12-10, 4.37). The only other season that the Yankees had three pitchers each with double-digit losses and an ERA of at least 4.35 was 1991 — the unforgettable trio of Jeff Johnson, Tim Leary and Wade Taylor.

Another notable theme from 2015 was the influx of young guys, especially on the pitching staff (thanks to the never-ending Scranton Shuttle). For the season, the Yankees had a weighted pitchers’ average age of 27.4 years (per baseball-reference.com), their youngest group of pitchers since 1971. That team featured a rotation with five guys under age 30, headline by 29-year-olds Mel Stottlemyre and Fritz Peterson.

But it was the old guys in the lineup that powered the offense. A-Rod and Mark Teixeira combined to become the third set of teammates to hit at least 30 homers in their age 35 season or older. The others were Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa (2004 Cubs), and Jeromy Burnitz and Vinny Castilla (2004 Rockies).

This Yankees team was unique in that it didn’t have a true superstar — or at least one that played in most of the games. Despite missing nearly one-third of the season, Mark Teixeira still was the team’s leader in Wins Above Replacement (3.8). The only other non-strike season in which the Yankees didn’t have a player with at least 4.0 wins was 1908. Their WAR leader was Charlie Hemphill (3.8) and the team finished 51-103, the second-worst record in franchise history.

Following a general trend in baseball, the Yankees set a couple strikeout records — good and bad:

• their hitters finished with 1,227 strikeouts, 13 more than the franchise mark set in 2013
• their pitchers had 1,370 strikeouts, matching the franchise record established last year
• their relievers struck out a combined 596 batters, the most in a single season by any bullpen in major-league history
• overall, they had a major-league-record seven pitchers with at least 100 strikeouts — Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren and Andrew Miller.

How dominant were Miller and Betances at the back end of the bullpen? The duo became the first pair of relievers on the same team to each finish the season with at least 100 strikeouts and a sub-2.05 ERA. Ever.

And then there’s this: one of the most amazing stats from the season is that the Yankees were 81-0 when leading the game at the start of the ninth inning. That’s the best record in that situation for any Yankee team since at least 1950.

The Five Biggest Hits of the 2015 Season

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

After two years with no October baseball, the Yankees returned to the postseason in 2015, albeit briefly. They were knocked out in the wildcard game by the Astros. Still, it was fun to have meaningful baseball back in the Bronx this year, even if we all pulled our hair out waiting for the Yankees to clinch a postseason berth and then home field advantage in the wildcard game.

As always, getting to the postseason required some huge hits, and this season was no different. The Yankees had plenty of memorable hits in 2015. In this year’s annual biggest hits post, we’re going to look at those big hits two ways. First we’ll use WPA since that adds some context regarding the game situation and whatnot. Then we’ll look at the what I think are the five biggest hits on an emotional “holy crap that was huge” level. Make sense? Let’s start with the WPA.

5. September 14th: Heathcott gives the Yankees the lead. (box score)
The Yankees were in the middle of their September fade when they arrived in Tampa for a three-game series in the middle of the month. Heading into that September 14th game, the team had dropped five of their last six games, and they were falling further behind the Blue Jays in the AL East. Then, with one swing, Slade Heathcott temporarily made things all better with this go-ahead blast against the Rays:

The Yankees were losing that game 1-0 heading into the ninth, and they actually had the bases empty with two outs before rallying. Brett Gardner drew a walk, stole second, and scored on Alex Rodriguez‘s double to right-center. An intentional walk to Brian McCann brought Heathcott to the plate. Slade was only in the game because he replaced Rico Noel, who pinch-ran for Carlos Beltran the previous inning. That three-run dinger had a +0.48 WPA.

4. April 10th: Headley ties it up in the ninth. (box score)
The fourth biggest hit of the season came in the fourth game of the season, a game the Yankees lost, believe it or not. It was the nightmare 19-inning game against the Red Sox. The Red Sox were nursing a 3-2 lead in the ninth and had the Yankees down to their final out when Edward Mujica left a splitter up in the zone to Chase Headley. Headley tied the game with a dinger.

The Red Sox took the lead in the 16th, though the Yankees again tied the game in the bottom half of the inning on Mark Teixeira‘s solo homer. The WPA of Teixeira’s blast was +0.44. The WPA of Headley’s to tie the game? +0.49. Too bad the Yankees went on to lose the game in the 19th. That was a memorable game for annoying reasons, not happy ones. The loss dropped the Yankees to 1-3 in the early going. Womp womp.

3. August 18th: A-Rod‘s go-ahead grand slam. (box score)
For me, this was the forgotten big hit. It seems to happen every year when I write this post. I completely forget one of the five biggest hits by WPA. The Yankees were playing well in mid-August, winning four of five heading into this August 18th game. The Twins jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the seventh when Miguel Sano hit a go-ahead two-run homer off CC Sabathia. They stretched the lead to 4-1 later in the inning.

The Twins are the Twins though, and they always seem to find a way to lose to the Yankees. In the bottom of the seventh, generic lefty reliever Ryan O’Rourke loaded the bases with one out on a single (Headley) and two walks (Brendan Ryan, Gardner). The bottom of the order got the rally started. A-Rod capped it off with a go-ahead grand slam:

The Yankees took a 5-4 lead on Rodriguez’s four-run home run, which resulted in a +0.51 WPA swing. They tacked on some insurances runs — yes, the Yankees actually did that a few times this year — and won the game 8-4. That was the middle game of a three-game sweep over Minnesota. Unfortunately, that was also the last series of the season in which the Yankees were in first place in the AL East.

2. April 13th: Drew’s go-ahead grand slam in Baltimore. (box score)
Two of the five biggest hits of the season came in the span of four days. The Yankees started very slowly this year, losing four of their first five games, but they crushed the Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball on April 12th to get things moving in the right direction.

The next night the Yankees mounded an impressive late inning comeback against the Orioles, who were the reigning division champs. The two teams traded runs early before Adam Jones gave the O’s a 4-2 lead with a sixth inning two-run home run off Michael Pineda. In the top of the seventh the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs against Tommy Hunter on two singles (Chris Young, Jacoby Ellsbury) and a walk (John Ryan Murphy). Stephen Drew then gave the Bombers a 6-4 lead with two-out grand slam. Here’s the video:

Drew started the year in a 2-for-17 (.118) funk before hitting that grand slam. He was actually pinch-hitting for Gardner, who took a pitch to the wrist earlier in the game. Gardner remained in and tried to bunt in his next two at-bats because he wasn’t comfortable swinging, then Joe Girardi went to Drew off the bench. Boy, did it pay off. The grand slam had a +0.56 WPA. The Yankees went 13-5 in their next 18 games.

1. July 3rd: McCann’s walk-off homer through the fireworks. (box score)
This came awfully close to being a Fourth of July walk-off home run. The Yankees and Rays played 12 innings on Independence Day Eve, and it was roughly 11:45pm ET when McCann won the game. Of course, the game doesn’t go to extra innings without another big hit earlier in the game. Teixeira tied the game 3-3 with a three-run blast in the eighth inning. That one had a +0.42 WPA. Here’s the video:

The Yankees had played pretty damn well in the first half, but they hit a bit of a slump in late-June/early-July, and they went into this July 3rd game with a 3-7 record in their previous ten games. They weren’t scoring at all either. They scored six runs total in their previous four games, and three of the six came in one game.

Anyway, the game eventually went to extra innings after Teixeira’s homer, and the Rays took a 5-3 lead on two walks and two singles in the 12th. It would have been worse had Headley not made a nice play to turn an inning ending 5-4-3 double play. The Yankees started to chip away in the bottom of the 12th, getting a run when Teixeira singled in Gardner, who drew a leadoff walk. Teixeira had a pretty huge game and absolutely no one remembers it.

Following Teixeira’s single, the Yankees had runners on first and second with one out, so a single probably would have tied the game. (Gregorio Petit pinch-ran for A-Rod.) Singles are for the weak though. McCann clobbered this no-doubt walk-off three-run home run. To the action footage:

Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff. Pretty good call by Michael Kay too. That was the Yankees’ first walk-off win of the season — they picked up their second the very next day, so I guess they did get that Fourth of July walk-off after all — and it sent them on another extended run of dominance. The Yankees won 14 of their next 19 games. McCann’s home run was the biggest hit of the season at a staggering +0.67 WPA. Yowza.

* * *

Now that we’ve gone through the five biggest hits according to WPA, let’s add some personal touch. WPA is a fine story telling stat, but it does lack context. It doesn’t know the division race situation, doesn’t know who’s on the mound, doesn’t know the Yankees lost three of their last four games, stuff like that. All of that definitely affects how big a hit can feel while watching a game live.

Anyway, so all things considered, here is my list of the five biggest hits of the season. This is totally subjective, of course. Feel free to disagree:

  1. August 14th: Carlos Beltran’s three-run homer in Toronto. (video) (box score)
  2. September 14th: Heathcott’s homer against the Rays.
  3. July 3rd: McCann’s walk-off homer against the Rays.
  4. June 2nd: Jones’ go-ahead 11th inning homer against the Mariners. (video) (box score)
  5. July 25th: A-Rod ties the game with his third homer of the night. (video) (box score)

The Beltran home run is pretty self-explanatory, right? The Yankees were swept at home by the Blue Jays the weekend prior to this game and it felt like the AL East was slipping away. Beltran came off the bench to pinch-hit and gave the team a colossal go-ahead three-run home run. Gosh, that was fun. The WPA of that dinger was a healthy +0.45.

The Heathcott homer ranks second because again, the Yankees were struggling and in the thick of the postseason race, plus Heathcott has been through an awful lot over the years. He’s a real easy guy to root for. Had someone else hit that home run, it still would have been awesome, but the fact Slade did it made it even more special. Seeing him have some success at the MLB was fun.

The Garrett Jones home run to me was huge, obviously. That’s why it’s No. 4. The Yankees did win the first game of that series in Seattle but had still gone 6-13 in their previous 19 games. They needed a big hit, and Drew gave it to them with a game-tying single off Fernando Rodney in the top of the ninth (video). Jones then won the game with a three-run home run off the lefty Joe Beimel in the top of the 11th. That homer had a +0.45 WPA and was by far Jones’ best moment in pinstripes.

Maybe I’m overrating the A-Rod home run. The Yankees were 9-3 in their previous 12 games at the time, after all. It’s not like they were desperate for a win. But still. It was the third of A-Rod’s three home runs on the night and it tied the game in the top of the ninth. Murphy won the game with his first home run of the season later in the inning. Alex’s third homer had a mere +0.34 WPA. It was still pretty damn awesome though.

Monday Night Open Thread

The postseason continues tonight with Game Three of the ALCS between the Blue Jays and Royals. Kansas City leads the series two games and none, though now the scene shifts to Rogers Centre in Toronto. As Yankees fans, we all know how tough it is to win there. Game Three (Stroman vs. Cueto) is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET and you can watch on FOX Sports 1. Make sure you tune into the pregame show. Alex Rodriguez will be a guest analyst.

Anyway, here is Monday’s open thread. The Giants and Eagles are the Monday Night Football game, plus the (hockey) Rangers are playing as well. Talk about those games, Game Three of the ALCS, A-Rod‘s analyst debut, or anything else here.

Ian Clarkin throws 4 innings in Arizona Fall League debut

(MLB.com screen grab)
(MLB.com screen grab)

For the first time in 2015, left-hander Ian Clarkin pitched in an official game this afternoon. Clarkin threw four innings for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League, allowing one run on three singles, one double, and three walks. He struck out two, got six ground outs, no fly outs, and threw 37 of 64 pitches for strikes (58%). Here’s the box score.

“I thought I pitched pretty well,” said Clarkin to William Boor. “It’s really good for me to have a starting point to make adjustments into my next start … It felt great. It was hard for them to take me out of today’s game. Obviously when they tell me I’m done, I’m done, but I wanted to go back out there”

Clarkin, 21, came into the season as the Yankees’ fourth best prospect. He then came down with a mysterious elbow injury and missed the season. It was originally called inflammation back in Spring Training. Clarkin was on a throwing program in August and September and has been pitching in Instructional League the last few weeks.

Keith Law was at this afternoon’s game and said Clarkin was sitting 90-92 mph with “that same good curveball he’s always had,” so that’s good news. His fastball/curveball combination has returned to where it was before the injury. Clarkin also throws a changeup and picked up a cutter last season. Here’s video of him warming up in the bullpen today.

“I think he threw the ball well, worked ahead in the count,” said Saguaros and Double-A Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado to Boor. “It’s fun to watch a lefty so young in this league. It’s fun, especially when he’s able to work ahead in the count.”

The 2015 season is a lost season at this point, but at least the AzFL stint will allow Clarkin to get some competitive innings under his belt before going home for the winter. The AzFL season ends in about a month, so with any luck, Clarkin will throw another 25-30 innings this year.

“All I’m worried about is going out and dominating,” added Clarkin. “I have a lot more left in the tank. I’m happy that I have a starting point, but I can do a lot more. I expect a lot more.”

Heyman: Zack Greinke to opt out of contract, Yankees expected to pursue rotation help

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke will exercise the opt-out clause in his contract after the season. He has three years and $71M left on his deal. Given his monster Cy Young caliber season, it would have been a surprise if Greinke didn’t exercise the opt-out clause. He should clear that $71M easily this winter.

Greinke, who turns 32 later this week, had a 1.66 ERA (2.76 FIP) in 32 starts and 222.1 innings this seasons. Since 2008 he owns a 2.99 ERA (3.02 FIP) while averaging 205 innings per season. Greinke’s a true ace and it seems like the consensus is he will age well because he doesn’t rely on velocity. He succeeds with pristine command of five pitches.

Heyman says the Yankees are among the teams expected to pursue rotation help, which, duh. Yeah, they do have seven starters either under contract (CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka) or team control (Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Adam Warren), but there are a lot of question marks in there, mostly health related. Besides, there’s no such thing as took much pitching.

I don’t expect the Yankees to pursue Greinke at all. Aside from the fact they seem unlikely to drop huge money on another starter, they also steered clear of Greinke the last time he was a free agent due to concerns about his ability to handle the media spotlight in New York. He had no trouble in Los Angeles, but whatever. It seems a little silly but the Yankees have focused on that stuff quite a bit in recent years.

Joel Sherman spoke to a Dodgers official who agreed Greinke is in line for a five-year, $150M contract this winter.  That may sound surprising, but Cliff Lee and Sabathia signed five-year contracts worth $120M or so at age 32 a few years ago — Sabathia’s deal was his extension after 2011 — so adjust for inflation and you get five years and $150M for Greinke. Then again, the Lee and Sabathia contracts are cautionary tales.

The free agent pitching market is pretty stacked this year. In addition to Greinke you have other aces like David Price and Johnny Cueto, solid secondary targets like Jeff Samardzija and Hisashi Iwakuma, and back-end types like Ian Kennedy and Mike Leake, among others. The Yankees will have plenty of free agent rotation options this winter if they decide to go that route.

All things considered, the rotation stayed fairly healthy this season. Tanaka, Pineda, and Sabathia — the three biggest injury risks — combined for 80 starts. That’s more than I think many folks expected, including myself. Eovaldi ended the season hurt though, and Warren still hasn’t gone through a full season as a starter, so some depth would be appreciated.

No Gluten, All Dingers [2015 Season Review]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s easy to forget Mark Teixeira was pretty good last year. At least in the first half. His .216/.313/.398 (101 wRC+) batting line and 22 homers were broken into a .241/.341/.464 (126 wRC+) line with 17 homers in the first half, and an ugly .179/.271/.302 (63 wRC+) line with five homers in the second half. First half Teixeira was pretty good. That guy in the second half was terrible.

Coming into 2015, the question was which Teixeira would show up? The first half version of Teixeira, who wasn’t great but was good enough to help? Or the second half version, who looked like a guy ill-equipped to get through a full season one year removed from major wrist surgery? As it turns out, neither version showed up in 2015. The Yankees had a different, better version of Teixeira this year.

The No-Fun Diet

Following last season Teixeira admitted he wasn’t physically strong enough to play a 162-game season after having his wrist rebuilt in 2013. He changed, well, everything. He changed his diet, his workout routine, his entire offseason program. The goal was to add muscle and get stronger. As part of that new offseason program, Teixeira cut gluten from his diet. He called it a PED: performance-enhancing diet.

“(I was on a) no-fun diet. Then I kind of basically just went back to what I’ve always done, and that’s just hit the weights really hard because I need to be strong. I’m a power hitter, a guy that has to drive the ball from both sides of the plate, and that’s what I did this offseason,” said Teixeira to reporters after reporting to Spring Training. What sort of impact would it have? That remained to be seen.

The Spring

I remember watching Teixeira in Spring Training and being slightly concerned he wasn’t hitting for power. He wasn’t even driving the ball to the warning track, stuff like that. It was Spring Training, I knew better than to read too much into it, but I couldn’t help myself. Teixeira had a miserable second half in 2014 and wasn’t that far removed from wrist surgery. I was hoping for a strong showing in camp.

Teixeira finished Grapefruit League play with a .250/.300/.375 batting line in 21 games. He hit just one home run. I was concerned. Not panicked, but concerned. Teixeira was going to turn 35 in April, he hit only five homers in the second half in 2014, talked all spring about his new diet and offseason routine, and he wasn’t showing much power in Spring Training. It was a red flag to me. Even Alex Rodriguez was mashing taters after his year away. I should have known better. I did know better. But I didn’t listen to myself. Spring Training has a way of breaking you, man.

Singles Are For The Weak

Like a few too many of his teammates, Teixeira went hitless on Opening Day, taking an 0-for-3 with a walk. He then had exactly one hit in each of his next seven games. Six of those seven hits went for extra bases. Three doubles, three homers. Most notably, Teixeira hit a game-tying home run in the 16th inning of that 19-inning marathon loss to the Red Sox in the first weekend of the regular season.

That missing power I was worried about in Spring Training? Hah. Teixeira hit eight home runs in the first 18 games of the season. He also had four doubles. Singles? Teixeira had three of those. Through 18 games Teixeira was slugging .729 with a .475 ISO. That’s such a small sample it doesn’t mean anything. It’s just fun to write.

Teixeira didn’t sustain that home run pace — eight homers in 18 games is 72 across a full season — but he still mashed. Eight homers in 18 games. Ten in 24 games. Thirteen in 38 games. As late as June 5th, 55 games into the season, Teixeira had more home runs (17) than singles (16). June 10th was the day Teixeira finally had more singles than homers.

When it was all said and done, Teixeira finished the season with 22 doubles, 31 home runs, and 47 singles. He’s only the eighth player in Yankees history to bat at least 400 times in a season and finish with more extra-base hits than singles, joining … drum roll pleaseCurtis Granderson (2011), Nick Swisher (2009), Jason Giambi (2006), Danny Tartabull (1993), Roger Maris (1961), Lou Gehrig (1927), and Babe Ruth (1920-22, 1927-28). No gluten, no singles.

Reversing The Split

From 2010-12, the three years between his one elite season in pinstripes and his wrist injury, Teixeira hit .236/.333/.451 (112 wRC+) against right-handed pitchers and .283/.377/.550 (147 wRC+) against left-handed pitchers. He’s a switch-hitter, yes, but he still had a platoon split. That’s not that uncommon, really. Teixeira was a monster from the right side of the plate and just okay from the left.

This season Teixeira reversed that split. He crushed righties and was merely above-average against lefties, which is actually preferable. There are a lot more righty pitchers than lefties. (Teixeira had 312 plate appearances against righties and 150 against lefties, so yeah.) Anyway, here are the splits:

Mark Teixeira splits

The raw production was better against righties — Teixeira hit for way more power as well as a higher average from the left side of the plate — but golly, look at those strikeout and walk rates against lefties. Even removing the intentional walks, he still had more walks (15.8%) than strikeouts (13.0%). Teixeira saw the ball well from the right side of the plate, he just didn’t get as much BABIP love. (Even by his low BABIP standards.)

It’s tough to evaluate Teixeira’s numbers from 2013-14 due to the wrist injury, though he was still better against lefties (102 wRC+) than righties (94 wRC+) those years. Considering we’re talking about only 150 plate appearances against southpaws this past season, my guess is Teixeira has not suddenly reversed his split and become a true talent better hitter from the left side. It’s probably just sample size noise.

Still, for the Yankees this season, having Teixeira crush righties was really valuable. (His 25 homers against righties were his most since he hit 30 against righties in 2009.) They also missed him against lefties down the stretch. That was obvious. Teixeira was a force at the plate this summer, and for the first time as a Yankee, he was more productive from the heavy end of the platoon.

The Defense

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Remember early last year when Teixeira was actually sorta shaky with the glove? He bobbled a few grounders and failed to make some scoops early in the season, plays even an average first baseman would make, and I thought it was just rust from the long layoff in 2013. Those struggles did linger most of the season. Teixeira was still good at first last year, but not as crazy good as he had been in the past.

This year though, Teixeira was back to being an outstanding gloveman at first base, one of the very best in the game. He’s not the rangiest guy in the world but he makes every scoop — how many errors did he save Chase Headley this season? — and makes every throw. He also grabs hot-shot grounders. Twenty players played at least 900 innings at first base this year. None had fewer errors than Teixeira (three).

Errors aren’t the best way to evaluate defense, but it is pretty easy for a first baseman to pick up errors because of bad throws from the other infielders and whatnot. They tend to get dinged for failing to scoop a short hop and stuff like that. Either way, Teixeira was great in the field this year. A good defensive first baseman is one of those things you don’t really appreciate until you have a bad one out there, but man, Teixeira’s defense is still world class.

The Foul Ball That Changed Everything

Injuries have been a problem for Teixeira in recent years. It’s not just the wrist either, though that’s obviously the big one. He’s had calf and hamstring problems too, and remember the weird cough that just wouldn’t go away a few years ago? Teixeira played in only 261 of 486 possible regular season games from 2012-14.

This year things appeared to be different. They were different for a little while. Joe Girardi did give Teixeira the occasional day off, and he did miss one game with nick stiffness in June, but otherwise Teixeira played in 109 of the team’s first 117 games. He started 107 of those 117 games. Then, in that 117th team game, Teixeira fouled a pitch off his shin:

The timeline from there is pretty wild. It took almost four weeks (four weeks!) for the injury to be properly diagnosed. Here’s everything that happened:

  • August 17th: Teixeira fouls a pitch off his shin. X-rays were negative.
  • August 18th: Teixeira goes for more tests, which show a bad bone bruise.
  • August 23rd: Teixeira resumes light baseball activities. He took batting practice and did some light running.
  • August 25th: Teixeira returns to the lineup. He goes 0-2 and comes out of the game in the sixth inning of a blowout loss.
  • August 26th: Teixeira doesn’t start but does pinch hit. He grounded out to end the game. Little did we know, that would be his final at-bat of the season.
  • August 30th: Teixeira goes on medication to deal with the inflammation around the bone bruise.
  • August 31st: Teixeira is sent for more tests. “We’re not happy with where he’s at. Just trying to get him healthy,” said Girardi.
  • September 1st: An MRI shows a more significant bone bruise than initially realized, but no fracture. Teixeira is put on crutches.
  • September 4th: Yankees place Teixeira on the 15-day DL. It’s a paper move so the team could call up a reliever before his ten days in the minors were up.
  • September 8th: Teixeira receives two injections to help relieve nerve inflammation.
  • September 11th: Yankees announce Teixeira is done for the season with a fracture in his shin. The latest round of tests showed the previously undetected fracture.

Those are just the major milestones in the Teixeira leg injury saga. There were daily “he’s still sore but he thinks he can pinch-hit” type of nuggets. In the end, it took three rounds of tests to find the fracture and of course it’s fair to wonder if anything (or everything) he did from the point of the foul ball to the fracture diagnosis made the injury worse. We’ll never know the answer to that though.

The fracture came with a three-month recovery period, officially ending Teixeira’s season. Prior to the wildcard game, Teixeira was with the Yankees and introduced during the baseline introductions. He came out on to the field using crutches:

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The injury comes with a three-month recovery timetable, so Teixeira is right in the middle of his rehab work right now. He is expected to be ready for Spring Training. The injury really put a damper on what was otherwise an outstanding season for Teixeira, both offensively a defensively. He hit .255/.357/.548 (143 wRC+) with 31 home runs and great defense in 111 games. That earned him his first All-Star Game selection since 2009.

Teixeira hit his most home runs since 2011 and had his best overall offensive season in pinstripes since 2009. His batting average isn’t what it was back then, but boy, Teixeira hit for a ton of power. Among players to bat at least 400 times this season, only Bryce Harper (.319) and Chris Davis (.300) had a higher ISO than Teixeira (.293). He was the Yankees MVP and a fringe AL MVP candidate at the time of the injury. The leg injury stunk. It really did. But Teixeira was awesome when was healthy.

Looking Ahead to 2016

Hard to believe it’s already been seven years, isn’t it? The 2016 season is the final season of Teixeira’s massive eight-year, $180M contract. Even with Greg Bird‘s strong showing down the stretch, Teixeira will be the Yankees first baseman next season. The team may scale back his workload slightly and give him more time at DH, but there’s no reason to think he won’t factor into the middle of the order. Teixeira is one of the team’s best players, if not their best all-around player. The leg injury this year was just a dumb fluke thing.

Fan Confidence Poll: October 19th, 2015

2015 Season Record: 87-75 (764 RS, 698 RA, 88-74 pythag. record), lost wildcard game

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Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?