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Archive for May 27th, 2010

The Yankees look for the sweep behind the resurgent Javier Vazquez, who is making his first consecutive turn in the rotation since May 1. Vazquez is also starting despite suffering a right finger contusion while trying to bunt in the sixth inning of his last start against the Mets. The Twins’ lefty power laden lineup will be Vazquez’ biggest test since being skipped in the rotation. If the righty can navigate through hitters like Mauer, Morneau and Kubell, he very well may have turned the page, giving the Yankees a starting staff that is five members deep.

With Brett Gardner restored to the second slot, Girardi has reversed the lineup change that helped the Yankees win last night’s games. Regardless, the Yankees will need the middle of the order to pick up the pace, especially Mark Teixeira. In Teixeira’s favor tonight is the presence of Twins starter Nick Blackburn, against whom the Yankee first baseman has a lofty .800 batting average (8 for 10).

vs. Nick Blackburn PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 16 0.364 0.533 0.636 1 3
Brett Gardner CF 8 0.250 0.250 0.250 0 0
Mark Teixeira 1B 11 0.800 0.818 1.200 1 6
Alex Rodriguez 3B 12 0.250 0.250 0.500 1 3
Robinson Cano 2B 11 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 15 0.250 0.400 0.333 0 2
Juan Miranda DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 2 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Kevin Russo LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 75 0.303 0.373 0.470 3 14
Yankees vs. Twins
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 4-1 NYY: 7-0 NYY: 6-4 NYY: 1105-765
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The struggling Yankees offense needs Mark Teixeira to regain his lefty swing.

After struggling in April, as he does each season, Mark Teixeira seemed to turn the corner as soon as the calendar flipped to May. In the first half of the month, Teixeira posted a line of .333/.406/.649 with 5 HRs and 19 RBIs in 14 games from May 1 to May 15. Since that time, however, the Yankee first baseman has fallen back into a deep slumber, posting a line of .186/.255/.209 over the next 10 games.

The strange thing about Teixeira’s slump is there doesn’t seem to be any identifiable reason for it. Unlike Derek Jeter, whose recent slump was characterized by an increased rate of swinging at pitches out of the strike zone and a corresponding decline in line drive percentage, Teixeira’s swing and contact rates have remained nearly identical to last season. Yet, for some reason, his BABIP has plummeted all the way to .226, which is well below his career rate of .305.

Swings
Mark Teixeira Out of Zone LD% GB:FB BB% K% Pit/PA BABIP
2010 21.4% 18.8% 0.89 13.5% 20.4% 4.0% 0.226
2009 21.7% 19.8% 0.83 11.5% 18.7% 3.9% 0.302

So, is luck the reason for Teixeira’s early season struggles? Although that may be part of the explanation, it does seem as if some other dynamic is at play. What stands out most is Teixeira’s struggles as a left handed batter. Not only is his OPS as a lefty a full 200 points lower than from the right side (.627 vs. 831), but his BABIP from the port side has also declined by a larger percentage compared to last year’s rates (27% from the left side versus 19% from the right side).

Mark Teixeira AVG OBP SLG w_OBA BABIP
as LHB 0.187 0.310 0.317 0.293 0.213
as RHB 0.259 0.348 0.483 0.360 0.250

Perhaps even more significant, fly balls hit to right field by Teixeira as a lefty are simply not leaving the park. Last year, 47.1% of fly balls pulled to right went for HRs, but this year, that rate has fallen drastically to 25% (his percentage as a righty pull hitter has actually increased from 40% to 50%).  Clearly, Teixeira’s struggles from the left side have led to the depth and duration of his nearly season long slump. But, why has his lefty stroke alluded him for so long?

HR/FB
Mark Teixeira 2010 2009
as LHB 8.9% 18.8%
to Right Field 25.0% 47.1%
as RHB 17.6% 15.8%
to Left Field 50.0% 40.0%

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