With Alex Rodriguez probably sipping champagne poolside for the time being, Mark Teixeira has taken over his role as the most vilified player by Yankees fans. It is something that I haven't really understood much.
Teixeira has always been a classy and solid citizen off the field, so it is hard to see why people have turned on him so quickly. He is not out there breaking the law or getting into trouble and has done wonderful things with his Harlem RBI program.
His pessimistic comments about his wrist to the media turned some the wrong way, but at least he was honest about it. Teixeira has always been a more open and honest interview than most Yankees, which you think fans would appreciate. We do not get many open and honest interviews anymore.
The reason for the criticism is that people think that he hasn't lived up to his eight year, $180 million deal that he signed. They're correct to an extent. Teixeira hasn't been worth all of that money so far, but he has been far from a bust.
The Yankees signed Teixeira to that contract to hit home runs, drive in runs and play gold glove defense. He has done that for the most part. The notion that the only productive year he had for the Yankees is 2009 is far from the truth. Here are some of his numbers in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and where they ranked among MLB first basemen.
|2010||33 (8th)||.846 (11th)||128 (10th)||.369 (10th)||.225 (8th)|
|2011||39 (1st)||.835 (8th)||124 (9th)||.361 (8th)||.246 (4th)|
|2012||24(12th)||.807 (12th)||116 (13th)||.345 (12th)||.224 (9th)|
(One thing I forgot to put in the table: UZR 2010: -1.6 (13th), 2011: 10.0 (2nd), 2012: 10.7 (2nd))
As you can see, Teixeira has performed as a top 10 MLB first basemen during these years, and that is no small feat considering how deep the position is. He has never had close to a bad season. The closest he came was 2012, and he was still an above average hitter playing gold glove defense.
Fans seem very concerned with spending Hal Steinbrenner's money lately. They chose to boo Robinson Cano instead of criticizing Hal Steinbrenner when he could have afforded Cano if he wanted to. Yes, Teixeira has been slightly overpaid so far, but that is no reason for the criticism he has taken so far. He has been a very productive player over his Yankees career. Who cares how much he is getting paid?
Another contentious point with fans is choosing not to bunt or hit ground balls to the left side against the shift. Teixeira is not the only player who refuses to do this, as most players have not adjusted to shifts yet.
Teixeira was not brought in here to lay down bunts and hit soft singles. The shift does not preclude him from hitting doubles in the gap and home runs in the short porch. As long as Teixeira's power numbers are there it does not matter much that the shift is taking points off his average. Most fans know at this point the flaws in the batting average statistic.
The injury bug is another reason fans have been down on Teixeira lately. Fans getting on players for injuries is puzzling, unless they're clearly dogging it like Carl Pavano. Obviously, injuries are not something players can control. It was not Teixeira's fault that his foot got caught in that ridiculous Toronto turf and he hurt his hamstring. However, many people will tell you that it was.
The Yankees really need Teixeira right now, and he has gotten off to a nice start. He is hitting .231/.375/.487 with a 140 wRC+ and .384 wOBA. He has three home runs over his last five games.
Teixiera's 16.7 percent walk rate has been particularly impressive. This means that he is seeing the ball well and not trying to press. He had not been walking as much in previous seasons, so it is good to see.
The Yankees will need the lineup to carry them over the next few weeks with the pitching injuries to Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. The lineup has been less than stellar recently despite the Yankees continuing to win for the most part. They have only won one game this season in which they allowed more than four runs.
Having Teixeira get hot as a switch hitter in the middle of the order would go a long way towards them surviving this stretch. He lengthens and provides balance to the lineup. It is nice to see Teixeira back on the field again, and maybe if he starts to produce again he will be appreciated more.