Mark Teixeira is the Yankees No. 7 hitter now, and if he keeps hitting the way he has been, it will make good sense to limit his at-bats and keep him out of the middle of the order. But last night’s lineup shuffle only masked the real problem, it didn’t fix it.
Teixiera’s not hitting this season. That’s a far great concern than where he’s hitting. The Yankees are still at their best with Teixeira right in the thick of things, driving in runs and performing like the elite hitter he’s supposed to be.
“I never really worry about the numbers because every year they’re there,” Teixeira said. “At the end of the year I’ll put my stats up against any power hitter in baseball.”
At his best, Teixeira has been one of the best all-around hitters in baseball. He was an MVP candidate just three years ago, and he’s finished top 20 in MVP voting the past two seasons. Even with a diminished batting average, Teixeira’s been a run-producing home run hitter. Simply getting him back to his 2011 level of production would be a real boost for the Yankees.
“The biggest thing that you want out of a hitter is production,” Joe Girardi said. “Average is important, yes, but average doesn’t always mean production. You can become a slap hitter and hit 3.10 and drive in 50 runs and hit 10 home runs and we’d all be saying, we’d probably like the other Mark Teixeira better, the one that 30 plus home runs a driving in 110 to 120 runs. So for me, the production is the important thing, not the average.”
For now, the Yankees will bury Teixeira in the bottom of the order while they try to get him past this slump, but Teixeira batting seventh will never be the preference. Hiding the problem doesn’t fix the problem. Teixeira might be the Yankees No. 7 hitter, but that doesn’t change the need for him to hit like a No. 3 hitter.
“You play 162 games a year for as long as I have, you’re always looking at ways to get better,” Teixeira said. “But I’ve always worried about the long haul and the team’s success. By doing that, at the end of the year, my stats are always good.”
With four more years on his contract, the Yankees have to hope that he’s right.
Associated Press photo