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Mark Teixeira has struggled to find his stroke so far this season.
With Mark Teixeira sitting out tonight, it’s a good time to look at his production so far in the 2012 season. Or, lack thereof. Tex is hitting just .228 with five homers, 20 Rbi, and an awful “un-Teixeira-like” OBP of .283. We know he is a notoriously slow starter, but this trend has continued for two plus seasons.
Has facing increased shifts as a lefty batter affected his swing? Has his bronchial infection sapped him of energy and stamina to play day in and day out? Whatever the reason, the Yankees need an answer, and quick. After a great first year in pinstripes in 2009 (.292 avg, 39 hr, 122 RBI), Tex has slowly declined in average and situational hitting. Lucky enough for the Yankees his power is still there. He hit 33 homers in 2010 and 39 in 2011. However, for Teix to be a lethal force in the lineup and for the team to succeed, he needs to hit better with runners in scoring position.
This year with RISP, Tex is 9-44 (.205) with 13 RBI. He only has 10 strikeouts, so swinging and missing isn’t the problem – its making solid contact. Even worse, with RISP and two outs (the most precious RBI situation), he his an ugly 3-20 (.150) with three RBI.
Has Tex turned into a gold glove Jason Giambi? I sure hope not. I know at the end of the day, the name of the game is run production, and Teixeira has done that over the past three seasons. But it is starting to get frustrating when men are constantly left on base and Tex continues to roll over on ground balls, pop up weakly or chase that slider in the dirt. Tex and the Yankees can’t sit back and rely on the home run. In fact, New York is 0-9 in games this year when they don’t homer – not a good sign at all.
Could the batting order be bothering him? His average hitting third this year, where he’s hit for most of his Yankee career is .385 (5-13). In the five spot where he’s been most of this season he is hitting .219 (28-128).
For his career, Tex is a .280 hitter with 319 homers and a .370 OBP. For whatever reason, his average has plummeted since ’09 (.248 in ’11, .256 in ’10). His highest average for a season came in 2008 (.308) when he split time with the Braves and Angels. The good thing however, is that he isn’t letting his offensive struggles affect him in the field. Tex is still playing a gold glove caliber defense, and saves a run almost every game.
Since Teixeira is going to continue to hit in the middle of the Yankees lineup, it is imperative that he starts to pick it up with the bat. Granted a lot of Yanks aren’t hitting, Tex’s problems seem to be most glaring. If he starts to produce, pressure gets taken off of the rest of the lineup. Hopefully a day off tonight will clear his head, rest his lungs, and put him in the right frame of mind to turn his season at the plate around.