Friday, January 25, 2013

State of the Yankees: First Base

Mark Teixeira will obviously be the Yankees starting first baseman this season, barring an injury. Unfortunately for Teixeira, his 2012 season was plagued with injury and inconsistency at the plate. His splits from the right side were almost dead even with those batting right handed. I know he isn't getting any younger but this steep decline coupled with his recent hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup for most of September doesn't add up to a promising 2013 season.

For Teixeira's career, he has remained very healthy, playing in almost every game for his whole career. However in 2012, he suffered a hamstring injury in late August in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays. He came back a couple of weeks later, prematurely. He would miss another three weeks on top of that when he re-aggravated his hamstring after hustling to first base to break up a controversial double play that would have tied the game against the Baltimore Orioles. When he came back before the postseason began, Teixeira was actually hitting. Notoriously a bad postseason hitter in the Bronx, Teixeira turned his misfortunes around and had a good series against the Orioles.

Teixeira's defense has never been an issue. Almost all baseball people will tell you that Teixeira is the best defensive first baseman in the Major Leagues. He recently added to his stellar defensive reputation by taking home a Gold Glove award after the 2012 season, where he made only one error all season which equated to a .999 fielding percentage. That is absolutely amazing and I wouldn't trade that defense for anything. The problem with Teixeira is his bat. He is s very streaky offensive player. When his bat is hot he can carry a team. He blasts home runs as a left handed hitter like clockwork. He is, however, unable to hit with any sort of consistency as a lefty batter. Teixeira is a dead pull hitter. After the 2011 season, Teixeira told the media that he would try different hitting mechanics in order to stop opponents from playing him in a drastic shift. He poked around at the idea of laying down a bunt, which never happened in the 2012 season. Teixeira essentially scrapped what he was adjusting in spring training and the early part of the season and started to hit the way he always did. Although he still grounded into extreme shifts, Teixeira said he felt more comfortable. He stopped letting the shift beat him and because of that, Teixeira sprayed the ball around the park a little more than he did in the previous two seasons.

After playing only 123 games last year, Teixiera still managed to hit 24 home runs and drove in 84 runs. His average is hovering over the .250 range over the past three seasons, and I think Teixiera is content with that.

My predictions on a healthy Mark Teixeira for the 2013 season: .260 BA, 32 HR, 110 RBI

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