For two-plus seasons the Yankees have been waiting for Mark Teixeira to return to his 2009 form—the form they deemed worthy of an 8 year, $180M contract. In the two seasons after his first in pinstripes, the Yankees saw Teixeira’s batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage all drop to career lows. His productivity and swing was inconsistent from the left side (not his natural side—not uncommon for an aging switch hitter) and his strike out rate had skyrocketed. In Spring Training this season Mark acknowledged his drop in productivity and hinted that he may bunt from the left side to “beat the shift.” We have not seen any bunts, or a real intent to hit to the opposite field to this point in the season. But that is not what the Yankees are counting on Teixeira for.
Teixeira’s seventh inning, two run home run last night in Baltimore was exactly what the Yankees are looking to Mark for. The go ahead shot was the first meaningful hit he had since April 21 in Boston. In the 19 games since his three run home run in the seventh inning of a Saturday afternoon game at Fenway—in which the Yankees scored 15 unanswered runs on route to their biggest comeback of the season—Teixeira has been searching for something positive at the plate in key situations. His average with runners in scoring position is just .211 this season. Batting in back of Cano and ARod, Tex will get his share of RBI opportunities and the Yankees need him to deliver if they want to have a successful season.
To this point, Teixeira’s bat has been dormant. There is no doubt that he gives the Yankees a huge lift in the field, which is what helped sell the $180M contract, but they also need him to deliver at the plate. A two-way player with a power bat from both sides is rare, and the Yankees are lucky to have one in their dugout. They just need him to wake up.