With the 2014 Major League Baseball season ending in an amazingly dramatic fashion, the offseason is officially underway. While I will certainly miss watching the playoffs, I am already excited about next year. I am looking to the future and trying to discover some players that intrigue me in 2015. One of those players is Mark Teixeira.
Teixeira is the rapidly aging first baseman of the New York Yankees who entered the decline phase of his career in 2012 where he only managed 24 home runs. That home run total was the lowest single season home run total for Mark Teixeira since his rookie season back in 2003. In fact, Teixeira went eight straight seasons in the Majors with 30+ homers from 2004-2011.
The Georgia Tech standout has been fantasy relevant since 2003 due to his massive power and ability to hit at a .300 clip for a decent majority of his prime. However, the 2012 season began to signify the true decline of the first baseman as his numbers began to drop due to more frequent injuries. The following season was an absolute disaster where Mark Teixeira made it 15 games before succumbing to season-ending wrist injury.
This past season probably best represented what we will see in 2015 and the future for Mark Teixeira. In 2014, he hit for a meager .216 batting average, scored 56 runs, hit 22 homers, and drove in 62 runs in 123 games. The home run total is still very respectable, but Teixeira has not played a full season since 2011. Also, Mark Teixeira went from a positive rate stat player to a negative one with his slash line plummeting from his heyday.
At this point, you are buying a bench bat for his 25 home runs. He should be a late round pick that offers decent upside for his home run hitting abilities. Beyond that, you are a looking at a year of frustration due to nagging injuries that Mark Teixeira is constantly battling.
As a 2014 owner of Teixeira, it seemed like he would have three good games and then promptly hurt himself. It felt like it was impossible for him to ever get anything going for an extended period of time. You could barely trust Mark Teixeira to make it through a single head-to-head matchup without picking up some sort of injury.
For me, I felt that the frustration outweighed the production, but 25 home run players do not grow on trees. He still should be rostered in most leagues as a bench bat or utility player to provide some pop on days with your regulars are off.
For the optimists out there, you might realize that Mark Teixeira only had a .250 BABIP in 2014, which could mean he was unlucky this past season. However, Teixeira is a switch-hitter who mostly hits lefty because the majority of MLB pitchers (and humans in general) are righties.
When Teixeira hits left-handed, he is a strong pull hitter, so many defenses shift on him. This defensive shifting has been a very popular trend in recent years because of all the new data available to teams, and it seems like left-handed pull hitters have had the toughest time adjusting to these shifts. The shifts really do work and the batting averages and BABIP’s of left-handed pull hitters have sharply dropped.
Due to the increased frequency and effectiveness of shifting, I do not expect Teixeira’s .250 BABIP to rise all that much. I do think that Mark Teixeira still could see a slight improvement because he suffered from a ridiculous amount of nagging health issues in 2014, but I think his ceiling is capped as a .250 hitter with 30 home runs.
For a 35 year old who will be a late round pick, I think you can handle the headaches if you want a backup first baseman with that kind of power. Those numbers would be pretty solid from a very inexpensive bench bat, but know that great power comes with great responsibility.