Improvement In 2013: Mark Teixeira

Mark Teixeira has hardly lived up to the expectations of his contract, and he acknowledged that last week. Almost every year Teixeira tries something new to combat his baseball inefficiencies, but it always ends up back-firing. Whether it's bunting, going to opposite field, or starting his hitting program earlier, he's always working on something new in Spring Training. This year, he's not, and that's a good thing.

Just last year, Teixeira started taking a new approach at the plate as a left handed hitter. The goal was to go to all fields and avoid the shift that teams put on him, the result was a .228/.283/.386 slash through the first 37 games of the season (172 PA) . After a few games off in late May, Teixeira decided that his new approach wasn't working, he returnend to his old swing. In the following 86 games, the first baseman went on to hit a much more respectable .261/.353/.516, and that was while playing a portion of the season with calf problems. Although he finished strong, his entire season was haunted by changing up his left handed swing in the first month and a half, and his 2.9 fWAR for 2012 was his lowest since his 2003 rookie season.

Now that Teixeira is given another clean slate, he plans to tackle this Spring Training by just being himself. Since becoming a Yankee, his wRC+ for the first month of the season has been 84 (2012), 155 (2011), 61 (2010), 95 (2009). He doesn't get off to many hot starts in April, but without a new approach at the plate, Teixeira is much more likely to start the season off with career normal numbers. At 33 years old, that's exactly what we want at this point.

In terms of batted ball rates, his flyballs drop from 46.8% to 39.5%, and that should and lead to more home runs. His .658 batting average on line drives may also increase to his .723 career average, however the shift on the left side may prevent a major jump in his batting average. His 2012 xBABIP also has him underperforming .052 off his actual .250 BABIP, so it does appear that even when he was swinging right, he found himself in some bad luck.

Even with age regression, Teixeira has a lot to improve on in 2013. He'll hopefully be able to contribute two and half more months of typical "Teixeira production", and his overall luck should neutralize. Unfortunately, we'll probably never see him produce another monster season like 2008, but at least we can expect more power and better contact rates in 2013.