Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is Mark Teixeira Having A Good Season?

Here's your River & Sunset question of the day: Is Mark Teixeira having a good season?

Many of his statistics would say absolutely. He ranks top five in the American League in home runs (28), runs scored (94), RBIs (91) and walks (73). He's on pace for 36 homers, 117 RBIs, and a career-high 121 runs, all while playing a Gold Glove-level first base.

Set in a season where the pitcher is slowly wrestling back control of the game, those numbers would suggest Teixeira is having another MVP-caliber campaign. But a closer look at his statistics reveal some abnormalities.

While his run production figures remain at or better than his career standards, his .262 batting average—even after Tuesday's 4-for-5 performance—represents a 25-point drop off his career mark. Similarly, his .867 OPS (on-base + slugging percentage) is 81 points below his mark of a year ago and 50 points below his career average.

Teixeira's downtick in batting average can be explained by some especially nasty slumps. He began the season 0-for-16, then after a three-hit day on April 10, went 0-f0r-16 again. His .136 average in April was horrific even by Teixeira's notorious standards.

Predictably, Teixeira got hot in May, but periodic disappearances in production continued to haunt him. He finally seemed to put it all together in July, when he batted .344 with eight homers and 26 RBIs. He's found a more consistent groove in August, batting .277 with seven homers and 17 RBIs.

For man largely believed to be a robot incapable of emotion and designed for optimum performance, it has been an unusually human season.

Alex Rodriguez is on the shelf, and when he returns, it's hard to expect what he'll give you. He had been on pace for the strangest 140-RBI season in Major League history, after all. A-Rod's new-found unpredictability makes Teixeira an even bigger piece of the Yankee puzzle down the stretch.

He's the glue of the middle of the lineup, so his propensity to slump this season makes for a scary thought with October baseball rapidly approaching. Teixeira's numbers the past two months suggests the worst is behind him, but his day-to-day performance continues to bear watching as the pennant race heads toward the finish line.

Dan Hanzus writes the Yankees blog River & Sunset and can be reached via e-mail at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.

No comments: