Mark Teixeira has a .152 IsoD. His .127 IsoP is disappointing, but he’s at least taking his walks. And, despite the poor raw stats, he’s still seeing a robust 4.20 pitches per plate appearance. When his batting average does start to rebound, he’ll look a whole lot better. Let’s start with that upcoming rebound.
Tex has started to hit the ball a bit harder of late, or so it’s seemed, but his BABIP still sits at an unthinkably low .153. This comes despite a solid 19.7% line drive rate and first rate raw power. When those line drives start to fall in for hits, the rebound will begin. Obviously, Tex doesn’t have much control over this. All he’s got to do is keep hitting the ball hard.
What’s different from last year, but not wildly different from his career, is that he’s hitting the ball on the ground more. So far, he owns a 41.0% ground ball rate (36.4 in ’09, 39 career). So he’s hitting more grounders than his career numbers suggest he should and more than he was last year. Unfortunately for him, and the Yankees, those grounders aren’t turning into hits.
His fly ball percentage (39.3) is also slightly down from his career mark (39.5), and way down from last year (43.8). My guess? Those fly balls last year more frequently turned into homers and led to more hits. That hasn’t happened yet. It will.
Before Mark hits the ball, he has to see it, right? So let’s look at the pitch data and see what we can find.
The first thing we notice is that his K-Rate is up to 22.8%, which is a 4.1% increase from his 2009 total and a 2.7% increase from his career total. Though he’s seeing a lot of pitches, he’s ending more of his trips to the plate with strike three than before. If this rate continues, it will be the highest percentage of his career.
He’s swinging at about the same amount of out of zone pitches he normally does–just above 20%–and he’s actually making contact with those pitches at a 68.9% rate (average is 64.5, Tex’s career is just below 55%). As for balls in the zone, Tex is swinging at 67.1% of those and making contact 83.7% of the time. Neither of those represent a drastic swing from his norms.
What’s my guess, then? I would guess that the balls Tex is making contact on that are out of the zone are the trouble. I surmise that he is hitting bad pitches weakly and that’s what’s making him ground out and fly out rather than single, double, and homer. If his O-Contact% comes down, his strikeouts may go up (imagine swinging and missing) or his O-Swing% might come down (taking more pitches, more walks). Either way, hopefully the latter, we’re likely to see fewer weakly hit balls off the bat of the first baseman and three hole hitter.