Mark Teixeira would probably love to just forget about 2012. He set career lows in games played, home runs, runs (tied), RBI (tied) and hits contributing to his least valuable season, as measured by Wins Above Replacement since his rookie season 10 years ago. He was injured for a significant part of the season, as evidenced by the career low in games played, which certainly affected his overall value, and almost certainly affected his rate values (BA, OBP, SLG, etc.). Still, it is clear that Teixeira is well past his prime – the days of .300, 30 HR, 120 RBI seasons are over.
Click here to see the previous “Grading the Yankees” pieces. Seriously, click the link. Do it. Well, read this article first. Then click it.
You may have noticed that Teixeira’s runs and RBI totals were tied for his career low. The totals with which they were tied both came from Teixeira’s rookie season. In fact, Teixeira’s entire rookie season (2003) was eerily similar to his 2012 season. Take a look:
Weird, huh? Not only are Teixeira’s traditional stats (HR, R, RBI and BA) similar between the two years, but so too are his more advanced stats (OBP, SLG, wOBA and WAR). This may be telling, and also somewhat unsurprising — studies have shown that batter aging curves follow a bell-like curve, as the following graph, taken from The Hardball Times and annotated by yours truly, indicates:
In Teixeira’s rookie season, he was 23-years-old, and in 2012, he was 32-years-old. Historically, batters have been equally productive in those two ages. Cool, huh? Of course, I must confess that I have omitted some important information: the hitting environment was much different in 2003 than in 2012 — namely, it was much easier to hit. Though Teixeira had nearly equivalent wOBA values in the two years, his wRC+ was 116 in 2012 compared to 105 in 2003. So although his offensive performance seems almost identical in the two years, he was actually significantly better in 2012.
Now if this “Grading the Yankees” series were based solely on performance, then 2003 Teixeira and 2012 Teixeira would be graded fairly similarly. However, these grades are based on performance as compared to expectations. And the fact is expectations were probably much lower in 2003 than in 2012. Coming into the season, though no one expected a high batting average from Teixeira, we expected at least 30, if not 35+, home runs.
On the positive side of the coin, Teixeira yet again played excellent defense, with a Yankees first base record .999 fielding percentage as well as 10.5 UZR, which added a full win to his WAR total. He was awarded for this excellent defense with his fifth career Gold Glove. This makes up for his poor offensive performance (relative to standards, of course) somewhat, as it made Teixeira a 3-win player.
- Works neatly
- Makes excellent effort
- Absences interfere with progress
- Results don’t match expectations
- Quality of work has declined
C+ – If he had played a full season, Teixeira could have raised that grade to a B given his superior defense, but with only 123 games played, even a C+ was probably generous. Though he was arguably the fourth most valuable position player on the team, preseason expectations — and salary — were that Teixeira would be an offensive force. Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to lower expectations for next season, as Teixeira is simply not the same player that he used to be.
Stats taken from FanGraphs.com