Yankees News: Mark Teixeira finds an unconventional way to beat the shift


New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira struggled in 2014, recovering from a wrist injury that limited him to 15 games in 2013.  From 2003 until 2012, Teixeira posted a slash line of .279/.369/.527 while averaging 34 home runs, 110 RBI’s and, maybe most importantly, 150 games.

While the Yankees would take that production in 2015, it is doubtful Teixeira can be that player going forward.  It is also doubtful that he is the player who has put up a slash line of .209/.308/.391 while averaging 12 home runs, 37 RBI’s, and only 69 games per season in 2013 and 2014.

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After watching Teixeira struggle to beat shifts throughout 2014, Yankees fans would love to see the first baseman make an adjustment in his mechanisms.  Unfortunately, rather than attempting to go the opposite way more, Teixeira has taken an unconventional way to beating shifts, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com:

"Hit more home runs, hit more doubles, and walk more."

Rather than beating the shift in the way most hitters would attempt, going the other way, Teixeira feels that his best chances are by applying his strength.  He feels that going the other way would rob him of his power, a key reason that he was given $180 million before the 2009 season:

"We’ve talked about it ad nauseam, every time I try to slap the ball the other way, it doesn’t go well for anybody.  That’s what the other team wants.  They want to take a middle-of-the-order power hitter and turn him into a slap hitter.  So if I can hit more home runs, more doubles, walk more, that takes care of the shift.  I don’t want to ground out to second base.  That’s not what I’m trying to do up there."

Manager Joe Girardi seems to agree as he stated that he is “not going to ask you to do something that you’re not comfortable doing”, while first year hitting coach Jeff Pentland stated that he is “not going to stand here and tell you we’re going to try to force things through the infield or through the shift”.

While Teixeira’s coaches seem to share his thoughts, at a certain point, adjustments must be made.  We saw far too many instances last year where Teixeira and Brian McCann both hit right into the shift, grounding out to the second baseman playing shallow right field.  Teixeira and McCann are both far better players than their numbers from a year ago, and the defensive shifts have limited their offense abilities.

A hitting coach’s job is to make adjustments when a player is struggling, and if early on Teixeira and McCann continue to hit right into the shift, then Pentland, and assistant hitting coach Alan Cockrell must make adjustments.  They cannot stand back and hope all will correct itself, due to what the players have done in the past.

If Teixeira is able to get back to hitting between 30 and 40 home runs and doubles in a season, then his approach will work fine.  If not, he must make the adjustments that best help this team win.

Next: Should Alex Rodriguez have followed CC's lead?

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