Pinstripe Preview: Mark Teixeira

By: Nick Scott

I don’t think any player on the New York Yankees is more polarizing than Mark Teixeira. Fans are split into two groups: Love him or hate him. I personally fall into the group that loves Mark Teixeira. I believe most the criticism thrown his way is unfair and the typical overreaction of a lot of New York Yankee fans out there. After all, performance really has never been an issue for Teixeira when healthy, the issue has been just staying healthy. And can we really blame him for that?
As a rational human being I sure wouldn’t. Not performing when healthy is one thing, but there’s no way I will throw stones at someone for simply getting injured. In fact, if you want to label a Yankee switch hitter as never healthy and overpaid, please direct your attention to Carlos Beltran who played less games due to injury (109) than Mark Teixeira (123).

In order to discuss what to expect from Mart Teixeira in 2015, it’s probably best to discuss what we know about him. For starters it’s pretty well known Tex is a wizard with the glove. Need proof? Teixeira has been the recipient of five gold gloves, three of which have come with his time in the Bronx. Last year really wasn’t any different for Teixeira as he posted a UZR of 5.6 which is pretty solid. When he first joined the Yankees, there’s little question he was the best defensive first basemen in the league. He’s definitely aged since then and I wouldn’t give him that title anymore, but he’s still certainly one of the top defensive first basemen and that hasn’t changed a bit.

Another thing we know about Teixeira is he is a consistent source of power. Not counting his injury riddled 2013, the switch hitting slugger has clubbed 22 home runs each year since joining the Yankees. That’s an average of 23 home runs a year, which is exceptional. He’s also never had less than 62 RBIs (2013 excluded) which is pretty amazing considering the issues he’s had with infield shifts and injuries the last few years. Simply put, the man is hitting for power like we have paid him to and despite all the obstacles over the last few years he’s been a sure bet for 20 homers every year.

In fact this last season Teixeira was enjoying an incredibly solid year before the injury bug bit him once again. In the first half Teixeira hit .241 with 17 homers and 48 runs driven in which is pretty solid. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to keep the pace due to injury (on pace to hit 34 homers, 96 RBIs), but as you can see, when healthy he hits well with evidence as recent as last year to prove so.

One thing has been pretty consistent throughout this article has been the word ‘injury.’ Teixeira unfortunately has only played 261/486 possible games the last three years due to injury. Most of us all are familiar with the wrist injury Teixeira sustained while preparing for the world baseball classic. Anyone who has tweaked their wrist in the slightest know that it takes a long time to go away and that’s if you are able to avoid any strenuous activity with it. Compound that with trying to swing a bat at ninety mile an hour fastballs and you’ve got some real trouble. This injury lasted a long while and it didn’t seem like he was fully able to recover from it this year.

On the subject of this year, I think it is important to point out that the good majority of Mark’s missed time this year was the result of fluky and unrelated injuries. Muscle pulls, light headedness, being cleated; these are things that aren’t exactly preventable or the result of what many call him ‘glass bones.’ No, this my friends is what we call bad luck, something the Yankees have been pretty familiar with the last few years. In summary, I don’t think that we can A. blame Teixeira for these weird and unpredictable injuries that have befallen him the last three years and B. expect the injury trend to continue seeing as he has no prior injury history before these last three years and most the injuries since then being unrelated.

I know it likely sounds overly optimistic, but there certainly is some evidence behind it. The wrist injury has flared up a few times since its injury in 2013, but since that year he hasn’t missed any significant time due to it. Outside that he’s had no cripplingly related injuries and he should have the offseason to fully rest up and show up to spring training ready to go.

It appears his average may never be around .300 again due to his pull happy nature and the rise of shifts in the game, but the shifts haven’t affected the more important part of his games that is creating and driving in runs. Additionally he still has a good eye at the plate and still worked close to 60 walks while having a career in Pinstripes low in strikeouts this year (2013 excluded).

In 2015, look for Teixeira do to what he’s done since joining the Yankees. There will be home runs and RBIs produced by the switch hitting slugger accompanied by his usual defense. Assuming he doesn’t suffer the awful injury luck he’s had the last few years, Teixeira could be liable to put up monster numbers this season.

If nothing else, his ‘Foul Territory’ awkward comedic spoofs are surprisingly hilarious, so there’s that.
2015 Teixeira Prediction: .245 AVG, 30 HR, 85 RBI

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