Bunting probably won’t solve Teixeira’s problems

When the Yankees acquired Mark Teixeira he was a career .290 hitter, but since joining the Bombers he has only had a .266 average and much of that is due to his deterioration as a left handed batter, hitting just .224 against righties last season.

Teixeira feels like the extreme shift that teams put against him is part of the problem and plans to try to lay down a few bunts next year to combat it, something he hasn’t done since he was a freshman in high school.

He told Dan Martin of the NY Post:

“One thing I noticed is that my average with men on base was good, but when no one’s on base, it wasn’t,’’ Teixeira said. “So when no one is on base, if they’re playing a big shift, I may lay down some bunts this year.”

Two things bother me right off the bat here. The first is, I would rather not see a guy who hasn’t bunted since he was 14 to start now at the age of 32. The second is, why is the shift a problem now, but it wasn’t for years when he was hitting .290 every year? Probably because the shift isn’t the problem.

For the shift to be an issue, Teixeira has to be hitting the ball on the ground. The problem with that is that he has actually hit the ball on the ground less since joining the Yankees. His ground ball percentage over the last three years has been as high as 36.4 and as low as 34.9 percent, his career average is higher than that at 38.1 percent.

Beyond just hitting the ball on the ground less, the problem could be his infield pop-ups. How many times can you remember him just popping the ball up over the past three years? It’s been a lot. Specifically that number increased from 10.8 percent in his career to 11.8 percent last season and a whopping 13.6 percent in 2010. Look back to 2009 when Teixeira only popped up 9.6 percent of the time and his average was a healthy .292.

That’s not to say pop-ups are his only problem or that getting rid of the shift wouldn’t help his average come up a little bit. But to think that his entire problem is the shift and that bunting is the cure all would be wrong.

Trying to avoid popping up so much would probably make a big difference, if he turned even 10 of those pop-ups into base hits his average would have gone from .248 to .265. The difference between the amount of pop-ups from 2009 to 2010 would have been roughly 28 at bats. See what I’m talking about?

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11 Responses to Bunting probably won’t solve Teixeira’s problems

  1. Michael says:

    If he hit .224 as a left handed hitter, that would be against right handed pitching, not left handed pitching (southpaws). I do think he needs to make more solid contact and not hit those frustrating infield pop ups, but he only has to bunt a few times to get rid of the shift. It doesn't even have to be a great bunt! It's not like he's going to be giving away outs constantly with poor bunts.

  2. Mike says:

    Generally speaking, when a player decides to opt for power over average one of two things will happen. Either he will strike out more, or he will pop up more.

  3. Help says:

    "much of that is due to his deterioriation as a left handed batter, hitting just .224 against southpaws last season."

    u mean righty's……every article I read on this site has typo's and mistakes……sad part is that this above example wasn't picked up AFTER the proof read…..

    Mark faces RHP when he's hitting from the left side and LHP when batting as a righty..

    • Sorry man. It's hard to write over 1000 articles a year with no editor and not have at least some typos. It happens.

    • Bronx_Knight says:

      Big deal. In the time it took you to complain about the typo, you could have e-mailed Rob and he would have fixed it.
      We're here for fun and baseball insights, especially about the Yankees. If your primary concern is about typographical errors, then you should try reading a blog about Elements of Style.

  4. Hawkeye says:

    The shift may not be the only problem, but appears to me to be most of it. I can't quantify it, but I've seen many ground balls in the hole and line drives caught by a 2nd baseman in short right. If it were not causing him problems, teams wouldn't do it. Hitting the ball to left once in a while would get rid of the shift and give Arod and Cano more chances to drive him in. It doesn't mean he would have to quit pulling the ball all the time.

  5. Mark says:

    A big element of hitting is the mental aspect. If he is going to the plate thinking that the shift is a problem for him, it probably is even if you can't see it clearly in the numbers. I would like to see him start hitting the opposite way a bit more and if that includes trying to drop a couple of bunts down into that left side void, I say great!.

  6. For everyone who thinks that the shift truly is the problem – please quickly explain why it wasn't a problem when he was with Atlanta and Texas. Or even 2009.

    • Fred says:

      http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?y

      "Manager Joe Girardi said that the Yankees have talked about Teixeira — who had a .248 average, 39 home runs and 111 RBIs — using the whole field, but Teixeira said that Yankee Stadium's right-field porch has just been too inviting to commit to it until now"

      There's your issue. He's got to find that happy medium between homers and base hits. The "inviting" right field might be doing more harm that good in a very strange way here.

      • Remember, he's pretty much always had the shift on him going back to his days in Texas. Also, he's hitting less ground balls as I pointed out in the above article. The short porch might be an explanation of why he's pulling the ball more, but if he's actually hitting less groundballs than the shift, that has always been on him, should actually be effecting him less, not more.

  7. Mark says:

    You're only accounting for the effect that the shift has once the ball is put in play in that you are assuming it only impacts ground balls hit to the right side of the infield. It can just as easily be messing with his mental approach at the plate leading to more strikeouts, more popouts or even more flyouts. I don't think you can necessarily just look at how many times the re-positioned fielder was able to get to a ball he wouldn't have otherwise been able to get to and say that is the end of the story.