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New York Yankees: Should Mark Teixeira Change His Approach at the Plate?

ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Mark Teixeira #25 of the New York Yankees hits a grand slam home run in the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 28, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images
Zak SchmollAnalyst IFebruary 27, 2012

If you are a New York Yankees fan, it is very possible that you read this interview with Mark Teixeira by ESPN's Wallace Matthews.

If you didn't, here is a paraphrase. Mark Teixeira is frustrated by the fact that he hit for such a low average last year. Therefore, he is using spring training to adjust his approach at the plate and begin to use the whole field better. Of course, this means he won't necessarily pull the ball as often and might not produce as much power.

My question is whether or not this exchange will be worth it for Teixeira.

Personally, I would not be so hasty to change Teixeira's entire approach at the plate. First of all, 2011 was only one bad season. I do not know if I would even venture to call it bad.

Sure, he only hit .248. However, he hit 39 home runs and drove in 111 runs. His on-base percentage was also .341. He was obviously being relatively patient and drawing walks, and he was driving in runs. That is what his job is for the New York Yankees. He is paid to be a big bat in the middle of the lineup and to produce runs.

The 2011 season might also have been simply unlucky for him. His Batting Average on Balls in Play last season was only .239 according to FanGraphs. FanGraphs also mentions that the average Batting Average on Balls in Play is around .300.

What this means to me is that Teixeira was a victim of circumstance last season. He was putting the ball in play, but these balls were being caught at a higher rate than average. Some of this may be due to intelligent defensive positioning from other teams, but some of it might be simply due to chance. If he migrates nearer to the league average, his batting average will obviously rise. Sometimes a bloop single will drop in, but sometimes it won't. For Mark Teixeira in 2011, obviously more of these were caught than dropped in. That's baseball.

As I have indicated above, Teixeira still produced runs and had a disproportionately high number of balls hit in play caught for outs in 2011. Neither of these particular facts worries me. I would be somewhat hesitant to change his approach. He has been a great hitter throughout the rest of his career, and as frustrating as it might be, he needs to wait and believe in his talent. It will eventually come around.

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