The New York Yankees gave themselves an early Christmas present in the winter of 2008 when they seemed to come out of left field to sign power-hitting first basemen Mark Teixeira to an eight-year, $180-million contract. Teixeira, who would be added to an infield that already included Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez, came to New York with a reputation for a big bat and a stellar glove.
The switch hitter averaged just under 34 home runs and 113 RBI’s from 2003-08. He hit over .300 twice during that span and won two Gold Gloves. Teixeira was as advertised over the first few years of his contract. In 2009, he finished second in the MVP voting and led the American League with 39 homeruns and 122 RBI’s. He also hit .292 and won another Gold Glove (his first of three with the Yankees). Teixeira was still very productive in 2010 and 2011, hitting 72 homeruns and knocking in 219 over the two campaigns. There was a disturbing trend that started to occur though, as his average and OPS dipped in each season (.292/.948, .256/.846, .248/.835).
Teixeira’s decline would continue in 2012, as injuries limited him to 123 games which would result in his lowest homerun (24), RBI (84), runs scored (66) and OPS (.807) totals since his rookie year. He hit .251, making 2012 the third season in a row he failed to hit for an average over .280, something he had done in every season from 2004-09. Whether it was declining skills or a tendency to try to pull the ball in Yankee Stadium, the once potential .300 hitter was struggling to maintain a strong batting average.
Things would only get worse in 2013 as Teixeira would miss all but 15 games with a wrist injury. All accounts are he will be healthy for 2014, but it’s unknown if he can ever approach his 2009-11 form again. The Yankees have to hope he can at least be a productive player as the team owes him $22.5 million in each of the next three years. That’s a scary number if Teixeira is no longer able to put up game-changing numbers at a corner infield spot at this point in his career.