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Another year, another slow start for Mark Teixeira

Apr 15, 2010, 11:42 AM EDT

Mark Teixeira went hitless yesterday for the seventh time in eight games this season, going 0-for-4 to drop him to 3-for-31 (.097) on the year and earn him some boos once Yankees fans were sick of harassing Javier Vazquez.
Slow starts are actually nothing new for Teixeira and in fact April struggles have been a career-long story for the 30-year-old first baseman. For instance, last season Teixeira hit .200 with a .738 OPS in April and then batted .304 with 36 homers, 112 RBIs, and a .976 OPS in 137 games from May 1 on.
Here are yearly OPS numbers for April and post-April in Teixeira’s career:

YEAR     APRIL     MAY 1+
2003     .631       .836
2004     .984*      .926
2005     .807       .981
2006     .886       .886
2007     .686      1.025
2008     .797      1.000
2009     .738       .976
CAREER   .761       .944

For his eight-season, 1,068-game career Teixeira has a .761 OPS in April compared to a .944 OPS in all the other months, which is pretty amazing for a sample size of nearly 5,000 plate appearances. In five different seasons (2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009) his OPS in April was at least 170 points lower than his OPS after April, yet the only time his OPS in April was actually better than post-April was 2004, when injuries limited him to just eight April games.
Certainly figuring out why he gets off to such slow starts would be worthwhile for Teixeira and the Yankees, but short of that his being 3-for-31 after eight games shouldn’t really worry anyone. He does this more or less every season and yet for his career has still managed to hit .289 with a .377 on-base percentage and .541 slugging percentage to rank 13th among all active players with a .919 OPS.
Maybe he’s just giving everyone else a head start.

  1. ecp - Apr 15, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    I wish I could remember who it was, but in reference to Teixeira, yesterday somebody was speculating that perhaps it takes longer for switch hitters to get themselves together because of the need to get into a hitting rhythm from both sides of the plate. It may even have been a thought from Teixeira himself; likely I heard it on MLB Tonight.

  2. Jtraincavs - Apr 15, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    For this very reason, I just orchestrated a trade for Teixeira in my fantasy baseball league. I offered Jon Lester and Jason Heyward for his services and was surprised to get acceptance, but I’ll take it. Here’s hoping his previous years’ performances continue in the coming months…
    As ReCaptcha required me to state, this article was a “sage announcement” of what Teixeira can (and hopefully, will) do.

  3. Evan - Apr 15, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    I remember watching the next Cubs Manager, Ryne Sandberg, get off to slow starts all the time growing up. I always think of him when I hear about the slow starters. Crazy how it happened every year.

  4. YankeesfanLen - Apr 15, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Tex does get off to a slow start, but the Universe doesn’t warm up til the weather does anyway. Cano and Granderson have heightened expectations to live up to, so I don’t worry til May20.
    And I quite assuredly do not boo pitchers on their 2nd outing.

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