"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Teix Marks the Spot

Alex Rodriguez has been getting killed by the press since the Yanks were bounced last week, but that’s nothing new. He’s getting killed by fans–at least the ones I’ve talked to–and that, too, is nothing new. The one Yankee player who has benefitted most from this is Mark Teixeira. Over at SI.com, Tom Verducci weighs in:

Teixeira, who came to the Yankees as a .290 career hitter, followed that .256 season with another decline, to .248. Put him in a postseason environment, with better pitching and home runs tougher come to come by, and Teixeira’s rally-killing style is going to be more pronounced. He has hit .167 over his last 108 postseason at-bats.

His troubles are particularly acute from the left side. Teixeira batted .224 from the left side this year while getting only four hits all year to the opposite field.

His batting average on balls in play has dropped every year with the Yankees: .302, .268, .239. That’s not unlucky. It’s symptomatic of his hitting style. His fly ball rate has increased every year as a Yankee (37 in 2008, followed by 44, 46, 47). His infield pop-ups, which are no different than strikeouts, and were as low as 14 in 2008, have grown to 21, 30 and 27 as a Yankee.

Teixeira’s swing simply is not built to make him a consistent clutch hitter. After coming to the Yankees with a .308 average with runners in scoring position in 2008, he hasn’t come close to that kind of reliability with New York (.264, .273, .268) — especially in the postseason environment.

Teixeira turns 32 years old next season. The Yankees already have age-related issues with Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. You can put Teixeira in that category, not because of health, but because his pull-happy, fly ball swing is the kind that doesn’t age well, sort of like those of J.D. Drew and Adam Dunn.

I wonder how long before Teixeira starts to feel the heat?


1 Start Spreading the News   ~  Oct 10, 2011 10:22 am

I wonder if there is actual analysis done on whether "pull-happy, fly ball" swing is the kind the doesn't age well. Or is this something he made up? I don't know if it is even conventional wisdom.

Giambi had a pull happy, fly ball swing. Does Verducci think that a 958 OPS at 40 is not aging well?

2 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 10, 2011 11:20 am

I don't think it's fair or accurate to say Tex benefits from ARod's postseason struggles. Nobody's giving Tex a pass. Him, ARod, and Swish have been getting hammered for their ineffectiveness. I don't listen to a lot of talk radio, but enough to tell you Tex is getting every bit as much criticism as the third baseman. He doesnt get ripped as much in the newspapers, at least in the headlines - only because he"s not the kind of personality that sells papers. Tex isn't front page/back page news, but that doesnt mean he's not feeling the heat, not to mention the disappointment he feels in himself.

3 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Oct 10, 2011 11:30 am

I will say it is nice that both corners play outstanding defense, which should moderate criticism at least somewhat.

Giambi was all right but I feel like we were sold a bill of goods with him. He was a .340 hitter when we picked him up.

4 Alex Belth   ~  Oct 10, 2011 12:13 pm

2) He may be taking some blame but I have yet to run into any Yankee fans who hold him responsible for the team's failures like they do with Rodriguez. And even those you do fault him, I just see NONE of the venom that is directed at Alex. But that's just what I've seen.

5 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Oct 10, 2011 12:19 pm

The ebbing BABIP confirms what my eyes tell me -- Teix, like Giambi, refuses to adjust to the shift and persists in believing he can power his way through it instead. The back leg and swing plane issues are just complementary proof points under the same heading.

Teix has to see a few moves ahead on the board. If he starts contenting himself with singles and the occasional double to the opposite field, he won't be abandoning the pull/power game -- he'll be improving the conditions for it. Like a football offense whose credible run opens up the passing game.

You can shut down any major league hitter if he abandons the old "take what they give you" maxim. What Teix needs second is a little Kevin Long time. What he needs first is the introspection that will lead him to Long's office door.

6 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Oct 10, 2011 12:23 pm

[4] Speaking for myself and not for [2], I hold Teix responsible for his own failures, because I think they reflect an ill-considered approach.

In assessing ARod's personal failures, I'm more inclined to forgive because I see a guy struggling against the effects of injury.

And for the team's failures, I hold Joe Girardi responsible -- because he had other options available, and instead left the struggling guys out there to keep struggling.

7 monkeypants   ~  Oct 10, 2011 1:09 pm

[3] I don't know if we were sold a bill of goods on Giambi as much as we bought high a longterm contract to a slugging 1B coming off career years at age 29 and 30..and he did hit .314 in his first year a yankee. Meanwhile, we bought high on Teixera coming off of career best seasons at age 27 and 28, and he put in a really good first season with the Yankees....

Hmm, where is this going to end?

8 monkeypants   ~  Oct 10, 2011 1:11 pm

[5] You can shut down any major league hitter if he abandons the old "take what they give you" maxim.

Ted Williams' frozen head disagrees.

9 RIYank   ~  Oct 10, 2011 1:13 pm

I agree with [1].
Also, what does this mean?

Teixeira’s swing simply is not built to make him a consistent clutch hitter.

Are there different swing constructions for consistent clutch hitting and good hitting in general?

10 T. Hawk   ~  Oct 10, 2011 1:14 pm

Oh I definitely think Tex has it easy considering how awful he's been. Maybe he's not getting a pass, but he's not getting hammered as he surely deserves.

I've been appalled by his ABs all of the 2011 season. He was supposed to be in the Yankee mold, a patient hitter but that seems to have fallen by the boards.

And yes, like Giambi he doesn't adjust his approach. It's eerily similar to Giambi overall except at least Tex is a great glove no matter what. But that's not why he gets all that jack.

11 T. Hawk   ~  Oct 10, 2011 1:16 pm

[9] I think it's kind of BS though obviously shortening your swing decreases power while increasing likelihood of contact. Maybe it's something along those lines.

12 RIYank   ~  Oct 10, 2011 1:19 pm

[11] Could be that.
But again, the question is why that would make someone a better clutch hitter, and not just a better hitter.

13 monkeypants   ~  Oct 10, 2011 2:09 pm

[12] Well, "clutch hitting" involves intangibles. So the key is get a player whose swing contains more of those.

14 RIYank   ~  Oct 10, 2011 2:40 pm

[13] OMG, I just realized.

Clutch hitting.
The shift.
Driving the ball.

It's all starting to make a twisted kind of sense... I feel I am this close to having a unified, comprehensive theory...

15 T. Hawk   ~  Oct 10, 2011 2:51 pm

[12] Generally speaking, not trying to hit the ball out of the park decreases the amount of outs one makes. These guys say they're just trying to make "solid contact" and 'drive the ball", but you can tell when that's bs.

So if for instance Tex would say to himself, "With RISP I'm going to shorten my swing and take what the pitcher gives me, not try to do to much", it would net him better results than "I'm going to be the hero and hit a ball into the river"

16 RIYank   ~  Oct 10, 2011 3:03 pm

[15] If it gets him better results in clutch situations, why doesn't it get him better results in non-clutch situations?

17 monkeypants   ~  Oct 10, 2011 3:11 pm

[16] You keep forgetting about the X factor.

18 Chyll Will   ~  Oct 10, 2011 3:22 pm

[15] I would think that discipline has to be in the equation somewhere, which also involves practice. Not just swinging in the batting cage for three or four hours a day, but also a certain amount of study, not to mention accepting that your reflexes are not going to be the same in advancing age. It's really odd that he waited until August? September? to admit that he was swinging for the short porch too often.

19 Chyll Will   ~  Oct 10, 2011 3:25 pm

[17] I can never get away from it; my housemate is too much of a fan of Simon Cowell. I'd like to forget, but I'd also like a Yankee Championship for 2011. Oh well...

20 RIYank   ~  Oct 10, 2011 3:34 pm

Okay, I'm convinced. It's largely a moral issue.

21 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Oct 10, 2011 3:53 pm

[8] I think the point lies in the big "if" -- you and I are basically agreeing from different perspectives. The reason they didn't shut down the Splinter was precisely that he didn't abandon the maxim.

22 T. Hawk   ~  Oct 10, 2011 4:52 pm

[16] Who said it wouldn't?

23 monkeypants   ~  Oct 10, 2011 6:03 pm

[21] I think that is bullshit. Williams was a pronounced pull hitter, and when teams employed a defensive shift against him, he continued to pull the ball and did not alter his approach or "take what they gave him." Rather, he concluded that it was better to hit the ball with authority. In fact, I believe that his approach was to try to hit the ball over the shift.

24 T. Hawk   ~  Oct 10, 2011 8:54 pm

I don't think anyone would argue against hitting the ball with authority.

25 sar1   ~  Oct 10, 2011 9:11 pm

I have tough time blaming A-Rod, because he wasn't healthy enough all year long to get into a hitting grove/rhythm.

As a matter of fact, his appearance and hitting order was a question for the post season.

I have to blame C.C. more then any other Yankee. His line was 8 innings, 10 hits, 6 runs, 8 BB, and an ERA of 6.23.

Sabathina didn't seem like his usual self in his last ten regular season starts, Joe even shut him down for eight days.

At 32 Tex is not old but his fast declining batting average is a mystery and has to worry the Yanks.

26 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Oct 10, 2011 9:26 pm

[23] [24] I think it begs the question. The point is, if you *can* hit the ball with authority consistently while consistently trying to pull, more power to you. Most hitters cannot, however, particularly when pitchers know they can feed you outside strikes with two strikes and there's little chance you can do anything with them.

The point about taking what they give you is that doing so increases the percentage of balls you can, in fact, hit with authority.

27 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Oct 10, 2011 9:28 pm

[23] In other words, if there's such thing as an exception that proves the rule, I'd say a guy who managed to hit .406 and .344 lifetime would be that kind of a guy.

Mark Teixeira and Jason Giambi are neither of them Ted Williams.

28 Boatzilla   ~  Oct 10, 2011 9:33 pm

[14] Hilarious. Thanks for the laugh. I hate this acronym, but I really did LOL.

Maybe he just needs a "tune-up."

29 Hank Waddles   ~  Oct 11, 2011 1:22 am

I was born long after Ted Williams retired, so I don't know if this is correct, but I think that the shifting is a lot better than it used to be. Teams always used to swing their infielders around for left-handed pull hitters, but I think the placement of the second baseman in short right field is a relatively new development. How many times have we seen Teixeira -- or Giambi before him -- hit a laser to right only to have it field on one bounce thirty feet beyond the infield dirt? These would've been base hits for Ted Williams. Earlier shifts would just suck up more ground balls. (If I'm wrong about Williams, please let me know.)

This is all the more reason for Teixeira to think about left field a bit. (Or, at the very least, taking the ball back up the middle. Isn't that what all great hitters say they try to do?)

When Paul Westhead was coaching Loyola Marymount in 1989 and 1990 and pushing fast break basketball to ridiculous extremes, opposing teams would occasionally hold the ball on offense, just to get a break and slow down the game. Westhead would counter this by pulling one of his defenders out of the play to wait on the opposite end of the court, hoping the opponent would shoot quickly in the 5-on-4 situation. Some teams STILL wouldn't shoot, so he'd then pull another defender. Faced with 5-on-3, teams would shoot.

Teixeira still isn't shooting. That's how stubborn he is. If Barry Bonds had taken easy base hits to left field in 2003, teams would've been happy to yield the single rather than a home run. Teixeira isn't Bonds. No one is afraid of him. If he started blooping singles to left, it would take about a week before every team in the league abandoned the shift.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver