Mark Teixeira’s game is centered around offensive production and his stellar defense at first base. To give you an idea at just how productive Teixeira has been, Mark hasn’t produced less than 105 RBIs since his rookie season in 2003. Even then, he drove in 82 RBIs. Then a question must be asked, If Teixeira has been so consistently productive as of this year, why has his batting average dropped off so much?
Could it just be how he is aging as a player?
The only problem with that idea is Teixeira is on pace to hit 44 homers this year, and have about 120 RBIs. That’s close to as good as Teixeira has been in the past. In 2005, Mark his 43 home runs and 144 RBIs. However, the difference between then and now is a 50 point batting average drop. So, the answer is not normal decline.
It has to do with the stadium. Take a look:
||Rangers Ballpark (TEX: 03-07)
||Turner Field (ATL: 07-08)
||Angels Stadium (LAA: 08)
||Yankee Stadium (NYY: 09-)
The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is a homer-friendly ballpark. His AVG was at .283 in his Texas years. Then, on the Braves, Teixeira’s average was .295. Turner Field is much less of a hitter’s park, and the same with the Angels Stadium. With that said, is it a coincidence that his best batting average years (overall) came in Turner Field and Angels Stadium.
Why is it that the stadium has such an effect, as shown above, on batting average?
It is all in what Mark Teixeira is trying to do. If you are a power hitter such as Teixeira, and are in a very, very homer-friendly stadium as in New York, you are going to try to hit more fly-balls than you ever did. The more fly-balls you try to hit, the more home runs you are going to hit. Right?
Wrong. In 2005, most likely Teixeira’s career season, he hit .301 with 43 homers, and a fantastic 144 RBIs. As shown by its dimensions, Texas’ ballpark is extremely homer friendly, only slightly less than at Yankee Stadium. However, Mark Teixeira, did not try to hit more flyballs. It was in the line-drives where he achieved his success. His LD% (line-drive percentage) was at 22.2%. In fact, Teixeira’s GB rate was 0.2 higher than his FB%. Back then, he simply relied on his own sheer power to hit homers. Instead of trying to hit the ball high and far, Mark tried to hit it hard somewhere. Once hit it hard, his power would take over the rest and drive it out of the park.
6 years later, Teixeira is hitting just .251, although his homers and RBIs are still quite up there. Why is there such a difference, from one homer-friendly park to another? The reason, is Mark Teixeira is simply over-compensating. Every single time, Mark is attempting to hit it high and far, which usually means out of Yankee Stadium. His LD% is down 5 points from his excellent season in 2005. Now is FB% is 14 percent larger than his GB%. 14 percent. And even though Teixeira’s flyball rate is up, he still isn’t hitting homers at the rate he did back then. In 2005, his HR/FB ratio was 21.2%. Now it is done to 18.5 %.
What does that tell us?
It provides direct statistical proof that the act of trying to hit flyballs, actually causes the hitter to hit more weak flyballs. If Teixeira were to start focusing on hitting more line-drives, his natural power will kick in, and he still will be able to hit 40-45 homers as he did back in 2005.
The reason I keep going back to 2005, is that 2005 is proof that Teixeira doesn’t have to sacrifice his AVG for HR and RBI. It is within Mark’s ability that he can just focus on hitting hard line-drives, and his production in HRs and RBI will still be high. However, as long as Teixeira tries to hit fly-ball after fly-ball, you’re going to see a consistent .250 AVG like he hit last year, and as of now, this year.
Joe: "Hit it hard somewhere for me Tex."
Is Teixeira’s declining batting average really a problem?
It’s not the worst problem to have in baseball, as long as his HR and RBI production remains strong. This year, Teixeira is on pace to hit at least 40 HR and 120 RBI which is fantastic. As long as he still gives the team lots of HR and RBI, then his AVG is the least of my worries. However, in the long term, it could become a definite problem. Once Mark starts declining due to age, which will happen later in the contract, he is going to be less able to drive it out of the ballpark. Therefore, it will not be a good idea to continue trying to hit fly-ball after fly-ball. Much less of them will simply not go out, due to age.
When the time comes, Teixeira may need to reinvent himself, as the line-drive hitter he used to be, but until then, let’s sit back and watch Teixeira have another very productive season.