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Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira Under October Microscope for New York Yankees

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Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira Under October Microscope for New York Yankees
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Nick Swisher, left, and Mark Teixeira haven't exactly been Ruth and Gehrig in the postseason since coming to the New York Yankees in 2009.

The New York Yankees will be in the postseason again as they won the AL East and will wait for the Wild Card winner to see where they will open the Division Series on Sunday. That means it’s time for what has become an annual question: Will Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira finally give the Yankees any offensive production in October?

First, let’s look at Swisher. The regular season has been a solid one for Swisher. He ended the regular season hitting .272/.364/.473 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI. That’s right about in line with he did in his first three years in New York. From 2009 to 2011, he hit .267/.368/.486 and averaged 27 homers and 85 RBI a year.

Swisher produced what he did this season under some trying circumstances. He spent much of September at first base filling in while Teixeira recovered from his calf injury, but now that Tex is back in the lineup Swisher is back out in right field.

The problem for Swisher is what happens to his bat once the postseason starts.

He’s played five postseasons, a total of nine series, in his career and is a lifetime .169/.295/.323 hitter in 123 at-bats and 147 plate appearances with four home runs and six RBI.

That’s an OPS of .617, which is a far cry from his career regular season mark of .827.

Since he came to the Yankees, let’s look at a series-by-series breakdown on Swisher:

Series AVG/OBP/SLG G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
2009 ALDS vs. Minnesota .083/.083/.167 3 12 12 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 4
2009 ALCS vs. Los Angeles .150/.292/.150 6 25 20 2 3 0 0 0 0 3 7
2009 WS vs. Philadelphia .133/.316/.400 5 19 15 3 2 1 0 1 1 4 4
2010 ALDS vs. Minnesota .333/.385/.750 3 13 12 3 4 2 0 1 1 1 1
2010 ALCS vs. Texas .091/.200/.273 6 25 22 3 2 1 0 1 1 3 7
2011 ALDS vs. Detroit .211/.250/.368 5 20 19 1 4 0 0 1 1 1 5
TOTALS .160/.254/.330 28 114 100 12 16 4 0 4 6 12 24

As evidenced by the table above, with the exception of the 2010 American League Division Series against the Minnesota Twins, Swisher has basically been an empty out in the batting order.

Swisher is a hitter who can turn a slump into a mega-slump because he presses. He tries so hard to turn things around that he winds up doing next to nothing.

He’s a hitter who can be shut down by good pitching and always has been. He has too many holes in his swing to ever be a high-average guy.

Add to that Swisher’s tendency to make a bad thing worse by allowing a slump to take up residence between his ears and it adds up to a guy who has hit .160 in the last three postseasons combined.

As for Teixeira, he will be trying to get back into some sort of a groove at the plate after missing all but one game in September with the calf problem. He didn’t exactly light up the Boston Red Sox after returning on Monday, going 1-for-9 in the series.

For the season, or the 123 games he played while battling assorted injuries during the second half, he hit .251/.332/.475 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI. In his first three seasons in New York, Teixeira posted  a triple-slash of .266/.363/.514, so his percentage numbers are down a bit this season. He averaged 37 homers and 114 RBI a year from 2009 to 2011, but he missed only 16 games in those three years combined. So it was expected his accumulated stats would take a hit this year.

For his career in the postseason (four years, seven series), Teixeira has hit just .207/.315/.322 with three homers and 13 RBI in 143 plate appearances and 121 at-bats; hardly the stuff one would expect from a middle-of-the-order force. A .637 OPS is a huge downgrade for a guy who has a career mark of .897 in the regular season.

Here’s Teixeira’s series-by-series breakdown since coming to the Yankees:

Series AVG/OBP/SLG G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO
2009 ALDS vs. Minnesota .167/.231/.417 3 13 12 3 2 0 0 1 1 1 1
2009 ALCS vs. Los Angeles .222/.290/.259 6 31 27 2 6 1 0 0 4 3 8
2009 WS vs. Philadelphia .136/.296/.318 6 27 22 5 3 1 0 1 3 2 8
2010 ALDS vs. Minnesota .308/.357/.615 3 14 13 2 4 1 0 1 3 1 2
2010 ALCS vs. Texas .000/.176/.000 4 17 14 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 4
2011 ALDS vs. Detroit .167/.286/.278 5 21 18 2 3 2 0 0 1 2 5
TOTALS .170/.276/.302 27 123 106 15 18 5 0 3 12 12 28

Teixeira has pretty much been a clone of Swisher in the playoffs, only with a few more RBI—a byproduct of hitting in the middle of the order. Most alarming for Teixeira is the disappearance of his power stroke. It’s hard to explain how a guy with a career .527 slugging percentage can turn into Gene Michael (career slugging percentage of .284) when the playoffs roll around.

So Teixeira has a double-barreled problem. Not only has he historically struggled mightily in October, but he’s also trying to get his swing back after missing five weeks (save for one game on Sept. 8).

Not a lot for Yankee fans to be optimistic about come the postseason, a time that has never been the most wonderful time of the year for Mark Teixeira or Nick Swisher.

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