Mark Teixeira's health is critical to the Yankees' success.
The Yankees never really adequately made up for the injury, and it was the first in a series of key setbacks the team experienced in recording its lowest win total (85) since the strike-shortened 1995 season.
Just how much Teixeira's injury directly affected the club's mediocre performance can be up for debate, but a look at the numbers suggests it was a major factor in the Yankees missing the postseason for just the second time in 19 years.
In his first three seasons in pinstripes, Teixeira played in 97 percent of the team's total regular season games. It's no coincidence that the Yankees averaged 98 wins and won a World Series title over that time.
|Year||Wins||Team runs||Games played||RBI + RS||% of team runs|
The table above shows the percentage of the Yankees' runs that Teixeira participated in either by scoring a run or driving one in. When healthy, the first baseman is clearly a vital component to the team's lineup.
By contrast, Lyle Overbay (the primary first baseman last season) took part in just 102 team runs over 142 games in 2013. That equates to 15.7 percent of the total runs the Bombers put up—a drop from what Teixeira contributes when he's full-time.
Further proof can be seen in looking a little deeper at the statistics, namely hitting with runners in scoring position (RISP) and oWAR (offensive wins above replacement).
|YEAR||Team runs scored when RISP||"Tex" RBI + RS (RISP)||& of team (RISP)||oWAR|
As with the first table, Teixeira has proven to be a significant contributor when he's able to play in the majority of a season, and how successful the team is can be tied directly to his productivity.
It is no secret that one of the Yankees' Achilles' heels in recent years has been the club's ability to hit with RISP. The statistics bear out the fact that they are more successful in that scenario when Teixeira is healthy and in the heart of the lineup. Even when playing a few more than 120 games as he did in 2012, "Tex" still managed to be part of nearly 20 percent of the team's runs.
In addition to what he contributes at the plate, what Teixeira gives the Yankees in the field may even be of more significance.
He is a five-time winner of the Gold Glove at first base (including 2012 when he played in just 123 games) and carries a .997 career fielding percentage.
He is a dependable anchor on the field.
Is Mark Teixeira's health critical to the Yankees returning to the playoffs?
To get back to the playoffs, the Yankees are going to need Teixeira back in their lineup.
Will he be 100 percent recovered on Opening Day?
In response to a question about the first baseman's status, Yankees beat reporter Bryan Hoch of MLB.com wrote:
Teixeira said recently that he feels close to 100 percent, though he wishes his surgically repaired right wrist felt a little less stiff. Teixeira has started hitting off a tee, and his game plan is to continue strengthening exercises while swinging a bat throughout the month of January.
It remains up in the air whether "Tex" will be back to full strength when the team begins the 2014 campaign.
For the Yankees and their fans, playing games in October may depend on it.