Slow starts have become a normality for New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, which should spark more optimism than pessimism from the Bronx faithful.
By Emmanuel Berbari
Every New York Yankees‘ fan knows that in Mark Teixeira’s case, April showers bring May flowers. Since the Yanks and Tex struck their eight-year deal prior to the 2009 season, the early panic button has set in so frequently that a slow start should not concern anyone.
Lifetime, Teixeira has slashed .235/.343/.437 in the month of April and .281/.371/.529 in the promptly following month of May. He has blasted 47 long balls in April and a much more astounding 73 in May.
The most prominent example in his seven-plus-year tenure in the Bronx was his first season with the club back in 2009. Teixeira got off to a subpar start average-wise and power wise. He only managed a .200 average along with three homers and ten runs batted in. He then proceeded to have arguably the best month of his career, slashing .330/.391/.748 with 13 home runs and 34 RBIs in May.
In 2010, he managed an even inferior start, batting .136 with two homers and nine RBIs in the season’s first month. It has been much of the same for Teixeira with the only stellar month of April coming in 2011 when he blasted six home runs and slashed a more than respectable .256/.392/.549.
Last year’s gluten-free Tex saw an April upwards in production with eight dingers, but only with a .216 average coming with it.
It makes sense. Teixeira is a pure “drive the ball” type of hitter with a long, extended swing. Taking a while to get his timing down is explainable, and health has taken a big toll on his time in New York. Spring Training has been more about getting out of Tampa with a clean bill of health rather than getting to tip-top form by opening day.
Given that Teixeira left off last year, his season derailed by a broken leg, with 31 home runs and a month and a half to play, the Yankees are extremely reliant on his production. The Yankees have not seen that middle of the order production in the first month of the 2016 season which has contributed to their slow start.
In Teixeira’s last 15 games, he has gone 11-51 (.216) with just three RBIs. However, he has had a hit safely in each of his last five games including a multi-hit game last night. Teixeira is driving the ball with much more authority and may finally be getting his timing down.
This may be that turn of the month surge that we have become so accustomed to seeing with the Yankee first baseman. Although a slow start can alarm you given his age (36), Teixeira appears to be in the same playing shape as last year. It is normal for him to go through the April motions.
The timing struggles can be attributed to his struggles with the curve. According to Brooks Baseball, Tex has gone 1-10 with six strikeouts against the hook thus far. When Teixeira is on, he is laying off pitches that aren’t in his wheelhouse and waiting for the exact pitch that is. That has not been the case this month.
In that best month in pinstripes in May of 2009, he struck out only four times on the curveball the entire month. Laying off the breaking ball in the dirt is his major key to success.
April struggles have been a staple of Mark Teixeira’s career, but there is a reason to believe that the Tex message plan may be in service just one month late.