After the Yankees and Mark Teixeira have struggled through seasons marred by injuries, it’s time to start talking about a very real and serious curse; first base is haunted for players in their thirties.
Teixeira used to be one of the best first baseman in baseball. Now, after a nagging wrist injury has forced him to miss parts of three years, it has become less of a shock when a setback arises. However, historical data backs up the fact that maybe older Yankees first baggers can’t stay healthy.
Before Teixeira, there was Jason Giambi. After two MVP-type seasons in 2002 and 2003, Giambi hurt his back at age 32, and was never the same hitter. Sure, he mashed home runs, but his overall production was down. Before Giambi, there was Tino Martinez. He was an excellent player, but he left the squad when he was 33-years-old after a 113 RBI year in 2001. And before Martinez was Don Mattingly, with the infamous disappearance of his power, pretty much devoid after age 28 (average of 9 home runs in final six seasons).
Ok, there isn’t exactly a “curse”, but there is a pattern. For the last thirty years, the Yankees have had four primary first baseman. One was drafted and developed (Mattingly), while the other three were snatched during free agency or trade from other teams in their primes (Tex from Texas, Giambi from Oakland (watch Moneyball), and Tino from Seattle via trade). The Yankees haven’t had a good first baseman in their minor leagues since 1982! At least the Yankees have taste in talented players.
Yankee first basemen will produce for approximately 3-5 seasons at peak performance. After that, the players just stop hitting well for various reasons. The Yankees have Teixeira until 2018; maybe fans have to stop expecting the explosive 2009 Teixeira and face the fact that this still productive, but oft-injured version of Tex is the new reality.