Mark Teixeira hasn’t had a good first half. He’s batting .282 with an OBP of .366, figures that are very much in line with his performance the last three years. But he’s only hit eight home runs, compared to 38 and 43 the last two years. As a result, his power numbers are down. On the left graph, you can see the key stat for Teixeira, his Isolated Power. Last year, his Slugging Percentage was fifth-best in the league. This year, his power has been just average.
So, what happened? Well, the first thing to note is that Teixeira’s underlying profile hasn’t changed much at all. For instance, both his walk and strikeout rates are in line with career stats — if anything, he’s improved in these two areas.
When a player’s home run count drops suddenly, you might assume that his flyball rate has dropped, too. After all, pitchers’ home run rates are often a simple result of their flyball rates. However, batters don’t typically change their batted ball profiles very much, and Teixeira hasn’t really changed his this year either, as you can see in this graph:
Teixeira did hit a lot more flyballs in the beginning of the year, but his groundball rate has risen (not a good trend) and his average flyball, groundball and line drives rates are now in line with his previous years. So, what gives indeed?
The simple answer appears to be that he’s not hitting the ball as hard as he used to. Over the last three years, 20% of his outfield flyballs were home runs. This year, he’s at 7%. The good news is that his out rate on outfield flies is holding steady around 77%, which means that last year’s home runs are falling for singles and doubles this year. In fact, he’s tied for second in the AL with 26 doubles; his career high is 41.
Mark Teixeira is the same hitter he’s always been, just less powerful. Perhaps his timing is off, or perhaps pitchers know something about him. Perhaps he’s in a protracted power slump and he’ll turn it around the second half of the year. Perhaps he has a nagging injury. In this age of unsubstantiated rumors, I don’t want to make any other guesses. Let’s just watch and see what happens.