Tonight, the New York Yankees starting first baseman since 2009 will make his final appearance in Yankee pinstripes.
The 14-year veteran, who will be playing his the final game of his very successful MLB career, will be honored by the team that gave him a contract in 2009.
Heading into the 2009 offseason, the Yankees were looking to improve their first base situation after losing slugger Jason Giambi. The one player who they decided would be a perfect fit in the Bronx was Mark Teixeira.
The two sides agreed on an eight-year, $180-million contract which expires at the end of the 2016 season.
Teixeira has been a solid player throughout most of his contract, other than a couple of injury plagued seasons. However, with the three-time all-star’s retirement, many fans are happy to see him go due to his poor production in his final year in the show.
Let’s examine why the Yankees will miss Teixeira more than you might believe.
Firstly, the offensive production the Yankees have received from their trusty first baseman over the past eight years is a level that will be hard to compensate.
In the three-time all-star’s first season in pinstripes, he gave the Yankees an offensive force that provided them with a middle of the order bat in front of Alex Rodriguez.
In 156 games, the switch-hitting slugger sported a slash line of .292/.383/.565 to go along with his 39 home runs and 122 RBI’s. He also finished second in the American League Most Valuable Player voting while taking home a gold glove and silver slugger award.
Teixeira would not let his success end when the regular season reached its conclusion, as he came up clutch in the game two of the AL Divisional Series.
In the bottom of the 11th inning, during a tie game, he hit an unbelievably dramatic walk-off home run down the left-field line to give the Yankees a 2-0 series lead. The impact of Teixeira’s bat would eventually lead the Yankees to win their first world series title since 2000.
Despite his MVP-caliber 2009 campaign, Teixeira would not let his success stop there.
Over his next three years in pinstripes, he would slash .252/.347/.484 with 96 home runs and 303 RBI’s, solidifying himself as a key power hitter in the Yankees’ lineup.
He was this consistent power hitter until injuries kept him out for most of the 2013 and 2014, leaving New York stuck by searching for the production Tex had given them all these years.
Tex would return to All-Star form in the 2015 season, where he slashed .255/.357/.548 with 31 home runs and 79 RBI’s while earning a trip to the midsummer’s classic. Unfortunately, however, Teixeira’s season would be cut short due to injury yet again.
He would play his last game of the season on Aug. 26, and miss out on the rest of the year after taking a foul ball off his right shin and fracturing the bone.
This year was one where we did not see a big offensive year for the first baseman but have seen glimpses of greatness from him — like his walk-off grand slam on Wednesday night — that shows he still has it in him.
Another reason the Yankees will miss Mark Teixeira, the impeccable defense he plays at the first base position.
Since arriving in New York, Teixeira has been the recipient of three gold glove awards for his stellar job at first while saving countless of throwing errors from his teammates.
Additionally, the slick fielder has been in the top five when it comes to fielding percentage, at his position, in each year he has been sporting navy blue pinstripes.
Teixeira’s most impressive demonstration of that gold was in 2012, the year in which he posted a fielding percentage of .999 and committed only one error.
Unlike his bat, the glove is an aspect of Tex’s game that has not seen any sort of decline since his debut seven years ago. In fact, his fielding percentage in final year in the Bronx is the same as it was in his first (.997).
Beyond his ability on the field, however, one of his greatest attributes is his role in the clubhouse. According to his former teammate, Nick Swisher, Teixeira is a great influence to the younger talent in the system.
“It’s huge, I know all these guys look up to him for sure, I look up to him,” Swisher told NJ.com Advanced Media during Teixeira’s rehab assignment in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. “I think to be able to have a guy like that up in here, he’s definitely going to make his mark here. I know guys have already started to pick his brain a little bit.”
He has definitely played a role in the successful debuts of recent Yankee call-ups including Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Mason Williams. It is widely known throughout the Yankees universe that Teixeira’s passion resignates to the youngsters in the organization.
There have been numerous occasions of this noticed here in his final year. Take September 26 against the Toronto Blue Jays for example.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tex hit a tremendous solo home run off of Jason Grilli to tie the game at three, which would be followed by a memorable bat flip that would remind Blue Jay fans of Jose Bautista‘s bat-flip from last year’s ALDS.
In many aspects of the game, Mark Teixeira has been a key piece to New York’s success and it will be hard to recreate that once he hangs up his cleats for the final time on Sunday.
Despite how his final year went down, he will be missed throughout the organization.