Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What is wrong with Mark Teixeira?

To say that Mark Teixeira has been somewhat of a let down so far would be a huge understatement. But what exactly is wrong with him? To find out lets take a look at his current stats and compare them to his career norms.

The first thing to look at his walk and strikeout (K) rates. His walk rate is actually way up at 16.5% from his career average of roughly 12%. His K rate has remained steady with his career average at about 22%. Even though it appears he has improved his patience at the plate, both his OBP and SLG percentages are about 100 points below his career average at .338 and .434 respectively. The biggest culprit is pretty clear though, his batting average on balls in play (BABIP), currently at a whopping .184. A large portion of that is bad luck, as a BABIP that low is not sustainable, but there also appears to be another culprit, his line drive percentage(LD%). His LD% is down over 10% while his fly ball percentage (FB %) and his ground ball percentage (GB %) are up about 10% each. To give you an idea of how big a difference this can make, the league average BABIP on line drives is about .700 while the BABIP for ground balls and fly balls between .230 and .250... Ya that can make quite the difference.

Okay so it’s pretty clear he is just making worse contact, which means he must be swinging at more pitches outside the strike zone right? Wrong, he has actually swung at 2% less of pitches outside the strike zone this year. So he must be making less contact with balls in the strike zone? Again, wrong he is only a percentage point lower than when he had his monster year last year. The only place where there appears to be a huge discrepancy is his contact rate with balls outside the zone, which is 20% higher at 70% than his career average of 50%.

So what exactly does all this mean? One of two things in my eyes. One, he has just been extremely unlucky so far and it’s just a matter of time before things start to go his way. Or two the pressure of playing in New York is affecting him, and he is starting to press. Whatever it may be if he does not start to produce better the Yankees are not going to go very far this year.

*Note- he is a solid buy low candidate for anyone who plays fantasy baseball

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