Friday, January 24, 2014

Player Analysis: Mark Teixeira and First Base

One of the few non-questions surrounding the Yankees infield is about their first base situation. Mark Teixeira will, without question be the Yankees opening day first baseman. Teixeira missed almost all of the 2013 season due to a wrist injury that eventually required surgery which benched Teixeira for the remainder of the season. He tried to come back briefly in June and hit three big home runs for the Yankees in 15 games, however he did little else besides that. Coming back prematurely from his initial wrist injury which he sustained while training for the World Baseball Classic in March actually hurt Mark even more than it would have if he just waited for the injury to heal entirely. Instead, Teixeira was eager to play and came back too soon, which ended up going more harm than good for the Yankees, and for Mark Teixeira. Luckily for the Yankees they had Lyle Overbay who proved to be a huge player for them while providing stellar first base defense. Overbay hit in the clutch and made Yankee fans forget about Teixeira's absence.

In 2014, Teixeira will come to Tampa in hopes of not re-aggravating his surgically repaired wrist. With the technology surrounded by the Yankees as well as their doctors being so educated with these types of injuries, Teixeira will likely be the Mark Teixeira that he was before he was injured and forced to miss the entire 2013 season. 

Mark Teixeira is without a doubt the best defensive first baseman in the game, and if you created a highlight reel, Teixeira's would take hours to watch. He makes plays at the first base position that other players at the position wouldn't even dream of making. His pitching staffs love him because of the defense and the other infielders love him even more for saving them each about five errors per season, especially Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. He makes all the tough plays look easy and makes the routine plays look like a cake-walk. He has earned himself four gold gloves at the position and has a career .997 fielding percentage. In 2012, his last full season, Teixeira saved 17 runs defensively, which helped him earn a 3.9 WAR that season.

Teixeira's bat will never be the same that it was in his early days with the Rangers and Braves. The switch-hitter used to hit for average and power, but since coming to the Yankees he has admittedly fallen in love with the short porch in left field which has significantly lowered his batting average through the years. He seems content with that part of his game diminishing, and being a dead pull hitter from the left side, which is where he hits most of his home runs. In 2012, he hit .251 with 24 home runs and only a .332 OBP. His on-base percentage is far too low for a player of his caliber and that is the one area that Mark needs to work on in his return in 2014; pitch selection is everything in baseball and Teixeira needs to lay off balls at his knees that he thinks he can hit out of the park only to pop them up high in the air due to his big upper-cut swing as a left handed batter.

My 2014 predictions for a healthy Teixeira: .255 AVG, .340 OBP, 35 HR, 105 RBI

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