Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest » Blog Archive » Time For Teixeira to Step Up

Time For Teixeira to Step Up



By Paul Catalano ~ October 20th, 2009. Filed under: 2009 Playoffs, Digest Contributors.

It is estimated that the Yankees saved roughly 40 runs in 2009, just by switching from Jason Giambi playing first base to Mark Teixeira.

According to Bill James Fielding Bible, from 2006 to 2008, Jason Giambi rated a -30 (meaning he made 30 less plays than the average 1st baseman), while Mark Teixeira was a +22.

All these facts and figures were on full display. As the New York Times’ George Vescey wrote this morning:

In the eighth inning, Bobby Abreu raced to second on his drive up the gap. Teixeira then did what first basemen are supposed to do — follow the play to second because there is nothing left to do at first. But how often do first basemen just gape at the proceedings down the baseline? “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it doesn’t work,” Teixeira said, noting that he made an out at second last season. This time he made the 90-foot run, and when Abreu slammed on the brakes 30 feet past second, a quick relay via Derek Jeter right to Teixeira’s outstretched first baseman’s glove. One out later, Teixeira hauled in a wayward throw by Alex Rodriguez and made a perilous tag on Vladimir Guerrero thundering down the line. In the 10th, Teixeira snatched two grounders down the line for outs. In between, he threw home for a force play to keep the game alive.

Amazing stuff, especially considering that for most of the 2000s, the Yankees penciled in “V. Frankenstein” at first base. In a tight, intensely played game, Teixeira made the kind of play that Jeter usually makes in those situations: smart and clutch.

That said, the man has got to start hitting.

After batting .467 in last year’s ALDS (with a .550 OBP), Teixeira can’t seem to buy a hit this postseason. And frankly, there is no reason he shouldn’t be hitting. With Alex Rodriguez en fuego behind him—batting .348 this postseason and slugging  .870—Teixeira should be feasting on pitches around the plate. He hasn’t.

And so far, the media hasn’t done an “A-Rod” on him, writing how “…Teixeira is not earning his gargantuan contract…” etc, etc. Maybe because its only been 6 games. Maybe because the Yankees have been winning. Maybe because they like him better than Alex. Who knows? The only thing that matters is that a .120 BA with 6 Ks in PA is not going to cut it.

Not if you’re the number 3 hitter in the Yankee lineup. No, 6 total bases in the postseason is not going to cut it.

Neither is stranding 7 runners in scoring position while only producing 1 RBI.

The good news is that against Scott Kazmir, in 18 PA, Teixeira is batting .636 with 4 doubles, including going 2 for 6 this season. So he has a chance to break out of it.

He’d better.

Before this season, Alex Rodriguez batted .245 in the postseason for the Yankees.

And New York gave him hell for it.

So shape up, Mark, and hit some doubles. Because if you don’t show up in the ALCS and New York misses the World Series—all those fancy plays at first base aren’t going to matter one bit.

It’s time to get going.

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Paul Catalano is an aspiring sportswriter who’s day job is as Production Manager for Field & Stream, Outdoor Life & Shot Business magazines. He has written often for his own blog at And a Player to be Named Later since 2007. His articles have been picked up by Dugout Central, Foxsports.com, Lindys.com among others. Before that, Paul got married to the lovely Elizabeth Ryan, got his Master’s in Writing from Emerson College, attended his first Yankee game at 9 years old, got his first base hit at 5 years old and was born.

6 Responses to Time For Teixeira to Step Up

  1. James K.

    “It is estimated that the Yankees saved roughly 40 runs in 2009, just by switching from Jason Giambi playing first base to Mark Teixeira.”

    I’m genuinely curious to see what stat suggests this, because to my knowledge none do. That’s a pretty outlandish claim. That’s a 4 win difference.

  2. Mike Silva

    He probably already saved 3 tonight by bailing out poor throws by the infielders. Paul, I am curious where you read that, not that I dispute it, but wonder how it came to be.

    James, does UZR take into account bad throws? I think that is the true value of a 1B. I understand that may be hard to measure because of what someone deems “a bad throw”

  3. James K.

    He didn’t save 3 runs above average with his picking tonight. I can say that with certainty.

    Fangraphs looked at 1st basemen “scoops” (picking throws in the dirt or errant/high throws) a little while back and concluded that runs saved by a good scooper is basically negligible. Remember, this is looking at runs saved compared to the average 1st basemen. The plays he is making at 1st are good but not superhuman. All anyone wants to do is compare him to Jason Giambi.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/first-basemen-scoops/

    And to reiterate – Paul’s 40 runs claim is baseless and absurd.

  4. sam

    Maybe Paul misunderstood the fielding bible data he cited in the post. According to the plus/minus system, Paul’s metric of choice, Tex saved -1 runs this year, +17 the year before, and -1 in 2007. It’s a safe assumption that his talent range is somewhere in the 0-10 range.

    By contrast, Giambi was -7 runs this season, and -13 last season. So a good estimate for runs saved, based on the +/- would be at most 15 runs better. Just glancing at his UZR data, and maybe giving him some credit for scoops, I’d say 10 runs better.

  5. Paul Catalano

    Actually guys, I got it here:

    http://riveraveblues.com/2009/08/does-mark-teixeira-prevent-throwing-errors-15419/

    It does lead to the Fielding Bible. If I read it wrong, I am truly sorry.

  6. Cal

    Giambi typically would not have played first base in the post season for the yanks. He usually dh’d. Which means those stats don’t translate for post season play. And truth be told if you swiched from a 38 year old first baseman to a 29 year old one I should hope you see some improvement. Would have loved if Giambi could have stayed on as a dh but Matsui and Swish are producing just as well.

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