If these new-look New York Yankees are to thrive down the stretch, a resurgent Mark Teixeira will be a large reason why.
Mark Teixeira’s non-existence for the majority of the 2016 season will largely be forgotten if his contributions help the New York Yankees clinch a postseason berth for the second straight year. In fact, most of the pain brought about by his first half play has already been put in the rearview mirror.
Let’s just say Tex, who will retire at the end of the season, is in a comfortable place right now. Whether the Yankees play him or not, he is at peace with the decision. Simply put, the 36-year-old is savoring each and every moment.
With that said, when Joe Girardi has penciled him into the lineup, he has come up with timely hit after timely hit, propelling the Yanks in their suddenly feasible quest for October.
It makes purely logical sense.
When the switch-hitter is provided with protection in the lineup, or just given remotely enticing opportunities to produce, he takes his game to a whole new level.
Since August 3, when the organization called up rookie phenom Gary Sanchez, effectively creating a more circular and potent lineup, Teixeira has driven in eight runs over 15 games and maintained an OPS of .756. Prior to that date, his OPS was a brutal .603 and he had only driven in 24 runs in just over five times more games (76).
The numbers do not lie. An authoritative lineup makes a huge difference for the first baseman, and the resurgence of this suddenly youthful and dynamic team has only played to his benefit.
Take 2009 for example — Tex’s inaugural season in pinstripes. Prior to May 8, with a heavy emphasis placed on his production, his slash was a dreadful .198/.339/.396 while he managed five homers in 25 games. On the eighth day of the season’s second month, back came a superstar.
Alex Rodriguez immediately made his presence felt out of the cleanup spot and, in turn, Teixeira thrived. In 131 games spanning from A-Rod’s triumphant return in Baltimore to the last game of the season in Tampa, his slash was an outstanding .310/.392/.596 with 34 round-trippers and 107 RBIs.
Yes, circumstantial play is a ginormous factor in the veteran’s game.
Battling himself this entire year, suffering from articular cartilage tear in his knee, the management of his playing time has placed him in those correct circumstances to succeed. Not only has he been handed RBI opportunities night in and night out, but he has been fresh enough to come through in those situations.
Right now, he is not only playing a large leadership role on a contender, but he has the distinct chance to be the difference.
Think of it this way: Mark Teixeira has one month left before he hangs up the cleats for good. Of course, he can very well make it two if the Yankees qualify for the postseason. The key word is “he” can very well make it happen.
He does not have 2017 to worry about. As a matter of fact, he does not have to worry about taxing his body ever again. Knee surgery is inevitable once his retirement takes full effect.
Currently, he is taking a, “Why not me?” mentality.
If the Bombers receive anything close to the 31 home run production of last year in the season’s final month, they will undoubtedly be a playoff shoo-in. The valiant efforts of Sanchez, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Judge, and the rest of the surging 25-man roster are destined to continue. Anything Teixeira adds is a cherry on top.
He can make it mean more than that. Throughout his career, he has shown the ability to carry an offense with eye-popping power stretches.
September of 2016, his final month in the show, can quite possibly be Tex’s stamp in the Bronx.
Since shipping away key assets at the deadline, the Yankees have led themselves on an improbable path to the promise land. Their first baseman of eight years can seize a rare opportunity and finish his career with an exclamation point.
The circumstances are certainly there. The lineup is clicking, the at-bats are dependent upon stellar play, and the team is within spitting distance of an unlikely goal. Given the situational man that Mark Teixeira is, this screams destiny.