The Hall of Fame case for Mark Teixeira

As the 2016 season came to a close for the Yankees in early October, the organization and its fans bid farewell to a longtime friend.  The Yankees starting first baseman since their championship season of 2009 hung up his spikes for one last time. 
Photo Credit: Chris McGrath | Getty Images

When a player of Teixeira’s caliber decides to retire, the question of whether or not his career was Hall of Fame worthy begins to arise. While Teixeira is by no means a lock for the Hall, his retirement has raised this question among Yankees fans and baseball fans alike: does Teixeira have a chance at being inducted?

While Teixeira may not have turned out exactly how the Yankees brass had expected him to when they signed him to a monster eight year, $180 million free agent contract in December of 2008, it is hard to argue with the fact that the switch-hitting slugger had a remarkable playing career.  Despite suffering from some nagging injuries throughout his career that eventually led to what some would call his premature retirement, Tex still managed to be one of the most productive first basemen in all of baseball from his rookie season of 2003 up until his retirement in 2016. 

Throughout his 14-year career, Teixeira accumulated five Gold Glove awards, three Silver Sluggers, and three All-Star selections.  He also received votes for MVP in seven different seasons, finishing as high as second place in voting in 2009 when he led the league in runs batted in, total bases, and tied Carlos Pena for the home run title with 39, all the while leading the Bombers to their first World Series championship since the year 2000.
Photo Credit: Andrew Theodorakis | NY Daily News
No doubt about it, Teixeira had a great career.  The problem is, sometimes great is just not good enough.  Being selected to the Hall of Fame is the most prestigious honor a baseball player could achieve, and because of this, it is a rather exclusive club.  At face value, it would appear that Teixeira will fall just short of being inducted come his first year of eligibility in 2022, but that doesn’t mean that Mark doesn’t stand a chance. 

Teixeira, of course meets the basic requirement to be elected into the Hall of Fame set forth by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).  Teixeira has played in at least ten seasons, with 14 seasons under his belt.  Now comes the waiting game.  Under BBWAA rules, a player must be retired for five full seasons before he is eligible to be placed on the Hall of Fame ballot.  This means Teixeira will reach eligibility in 2022.  Despite his upcoming eligibility, there is a lot of uncertainty amongst the baseball community as to how Teixeira’s numbers stack up against those already enshrined in Cooperstown.  Will his numbers be enough to get him in?

While Teixeira’s career 52.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) falls well short of the 65.9 average WAR of all Hall of Fame first basemen, Teixeira has achieved a feat that no other first baseman enshrined in Cooperstown has ever achieved.  Mark Teixeira is the only first baseman in the history of baseball to finish his career with over 400 home runs, more than 1,200 runs batted in, over 900 walks, a slugging percentage of over .500, and five or more Gold Glove awards won. 

Let that sink in for a minute.  Major League Baseball has seen the likes of Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx, Hank Greenberg, and Willie McCovey, all of whom are enshrined in the Hall of Fame, but had not accomplished the near impossible feat that Teixeira did during his dazzling career.  It truly puts into perspective how productive Teixeira really was during his time on the diamond, and while it is unlikely that this will secure him a plaque in Cooperstown, it definitely gives him a fighting chance. 

Regardless of whether or not Mark Teixeira sneaks into the Hall of Fame, his career will be remembered as one for the ages, in which he saw a lot of success while simultaneously winning over the hearts of baseball fans everywhere, and that truly is nothing to be ashamed of.   

Article by: Matthew Smith 
 

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