New York Yankees’ first baseman Mark Teixeira has been terrible thus far in 2016, but he has no one to blame but himself.
Infield over-shifts have become a thorn in the side of countless major league baseball players and the New York Yankees are no exception.
Due to the advanced scouting reports and new technology in baseball, one may sound like a broken record to sit back and say that players should practice the strategy.
Particular players are paid to excel in specific situations for a team. However, there comes a time when these shifts start hampering the performance of a given player.
That player, in this case, is Mark Teixeira, who continues to disappoint New York fans more and more as the days go by. It goes without saying that shifts have severely messed with Tex’s Yankee career.
He has not managed an average north of .260 since his inaugural season (.292) with the club back in 2009 and there is a simple answer as to why: if you face Texeira, place your third baseman in shallow right field.
This is not to say that Teixeira has struggled to produce power-wise throughout his struggles. With the exception of two injury-shortened seasons in 2012 and 2013, he has managed 30+ round trippers in every season with New York.
However, when you take a look at the .195/.294/.282 slash that belongs Teixeira’s first two months in 2016 along with the 12 RBIs in 42 games, it draws serious concern.
To add insult to injury, when you combine these stats with his age and the fact that he is simply overpowered at the dish, you have yourself a serious problem.
The most prominent answers dished out to media throughout Tex’s tenure from Joe Girardi and Teixeira himself, have been that he is “paid to drive the ball” and he will “start finding holes”.
Most years, that is acceptable. This year, his three homers provide no insurance plan.
Teixeira’s power side is the left side or when he faces right-handed pitching. He perennially drives the ball with authority from the left-side and makes a Yankee Stadium living.
This year, his .140/.238/.237 slash from the left side with 36 strikeouts in 36 games is frightening, to say the least. His BABIP, batting average on balls in play, is a mere .185. BABIP is arguably the greatest indicator of truly how much the shift is hurting a player.
Take a look at the first baseman’s spray chart when batting from the left side.
Look familiar? Once in a blue moon, he will get lucky on a ground ball to the right side, but nine times out of ten a green dot is Teixeira’s enemy.
There is a simple solution to this: go against the shift. For years, it was easy to cut him a break given that he was driving the ball.
It is currently impossible to extend Tex the same courtesy with his current power production. Fans hoped that April showers would help bloom May flowers.
Instead, April showers helped develop a category five hurricane.
His batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging have all dropped more than 65 points this month and his OPS has dropped an enormous 277.
In addition, he has yet to go yard in 20 games this month.
It has not been overly difficult for opposing pitchers to pick up on an apparent weakness. The name of the game has been getting ahead of Teixeira and then have him guessing at off-speed offerings.
There is some thought as to why his numbers are so sub-par off breaking pitches. According to the great minds at Brooks Baseball, Tex has only managed a .037 (1-27), yes .037, average against those pitches.
He is either striking out or rolling over the pitches and grounding them to the right side in the exact fashion that you do not want to hit a breaking ball.
Would it be the end of the world for Teixeira to try and pick up some easy hits to the opposite field, sacrifice already non-existent power, move the defense over slightly with a shift in general conception, and then attempt to go back to his old ways?
The answer is no.
The problem is that he is continually run out in the number three spot in the lineup. If Joe Girardi bumps him down a few spots to work out his woes with a more compact approach as he has done from the right side with a .288 (15-52) average against left-handers, perhaps Tex will be in a new-found position to succeed.
Any player with capabilities half as stellar as Teixeira should be able to punch a ball through the left side of the infield. All things considered, shouldn’t Tex want to get the last word with his largest demon throughout his past six years in New York?
Everything is getting uglier by the day for Mark Teixeira, who would be doing himself a disservice by not trying to defeat his cruelest obstacle.