Looking For Answers: Why Has Mark Teixeira Struggled To Hit For AVG? Is He Still An Elite 1B?

There is no doubting the talent of Mark Teixeira and, for the most part, his 2011 campaign has been a success.  How can you consider it anything else when he already has 35 HR and 100 RBI and we haven’t even reached September (all numbers in this article are through August 29)?

However, since coming to the Yankees Teixeira, once a threat to hit .300 or better, has seen his average consistently fall.  A notorious slow starter, nowadays he just appears to be a power hitter and little more.

We see his .236 BABIP from this season and want declare it all a function of poor luck, but that just may not be the case.  First, let’s look at his fly ball rate for the five seasons prior to joining the Yankees:

  • 2004 – 39.5%
  • 2005 – 38.8%
  • 2006 – 40.9%
  • 2007 – 40.9%
  • 2008 – 36.5%

He hit at least .281 in all five of those seasons, including three years above .300.  He also consistently hit for power, with 30+ HR every season as well as always driving in at least 105 yards (including a year of 43 HR and 144 RBI).

Since joining the Yankees in 2009, the power and RBI have remained, but there has been a clear change in his fly ball rate:

  • 2009 – 43.8%
  • 2010 – 45.5%
  • 2011 – 46.5%

Those numbers have helped to lead to consistently disappointing averages.  He did hit .292 in 2009 (his first year in New York), but since then he’s posted marks of .256 and .251.  Has Yankees Stadium gotten into his head?  Is he now swinging for the fences?  More fly balls yields a lower BABIP (in general), so that clearly could be at play here.

Is it enough to write Teixeira off as a potential source of average?  Long-term I wouldn’t think so as he’s shown the skill in the past, but he needs to get his swing back to where it once was.  It’s clear that, to an extent, Yankees Stadium may have affected his approach at the plate.

For now, however, we need to accept Teixeira for what he is.  That’s a player who is going to bring power and RBI to the table, but the average is going to be marginal, at best.  Think a .260-.265ish hitter with extreme power.  It’s a good player, for sure, but at 1B, one of the deepest positions in the game, it’s not an elite one.

Adjust your thinking for the remainder of the season and you won’t be disappointed.  As for 2012, that’s going to be a story for another day.

What are your thoughts on Teixeira?  What is your explanation for his poor average?  Do you think it’s something he can correct?

One comment

  1. mark says:

    Albert and Mark have both had off years vs career ba. injuries,father time to some extent and the year of the pitcher all rolled into one/ ex: dunn as well. Mark has become a short porchman and just wants to trot instead of run..270 again maybe but more like a dunn from now on in his prime
    just my op

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