On June 30th last season, Mark Teixeira was hitting .235/.354/.540 from the left side of the plate. That’s a poor batting average, but solid overall numbers. Then in an attempt to raise his batting average, somebody from the Yankees front office ordered him to begin hitting the ball the other way from the left side.
He attempted to do for the remainder of last season all the way up through June of this season and the results were not pretty.
“Hey, listen, halfway through last season I was on pace for 50 home runs and 130 RBI and I had people telling me, ‘you need to hit the ball the other way.’” Teixeira told John Harper of the NY Daily News. “I probably shouldn’t have listened to them but I try to please the people that I work for, and it didn’t work out.’’
From July of last season through June this year, Teixeira hit just .229/.311/.396 over 151 games as a lefty. As you can see, the numbers dropped across the board when Teixeira attempted to do something he was not accustomed to.
Recently, he ditched the decree and his numbers quickly sky rocketed. In 19 games this month he is hitting a robust .244/.377/.488 as a lefty. Still not a pretty average, but significantly better numbers besides that.
“It’s all about producing runs,’’ he said. “I’d love to hit .300 every year. It would make everybody happy, but I’d much rather drive in 100 runs every year.
“With the short porch here, why wouldn’t I want to take advantage of that? I’ve played in ballparks where you get rewarded in center field and left-center, but here the ball doesn’t carry to center and left-center. It’s 399 feet to the alley in left-center. It’s a big park that way.
“I tried to do it the other way in the second half last season and again this season, and the numbers weren’t good. Early in the season, I was swinging at pitches middle-away and hitting lazy fly balls to left or ground balls to short. I’d rather take that pitch and wait for a mistake. I want to do damage.’’
“I finally just realized that when I’m not aggressive, I lose what makes me good,’’ Teixeira said.
Hopefully it is as simple as all that. Teixeira is an extremely streaky hitter and he’s been in one of his streaks for about a month now. That makes it hard to tell if he’s legitimately turned his bad luck around or if this is just a blip.
One thing though, in the past year when he was trying to hit the ball the other way, he never had one of his red hot months from the left side so this past July could be a real sign that constantly pulling the ball has paid off.
The one question that remains is – who gave Teixeira the order to start hitting the ball the other way? Joe Girardi denied it. Brian Cashman denied it too. It’s not like Hal Steinbrenner to get involved in the way his father always used to. So maybe it was Randy Levine? Not too many people have that kind of power that they can tell Teixeira what to do.