Reading about Mark Teixeira in our 25 Days/25 Questions series today got me thinking back to the previous season and something that my Stats & Information colleague, Dan Braunstein, and I checked out in regarding Teixeira's belief that he was losing hits due to the shift.
Teixeira as LHB
With No One on Base
Here's some information that supplements what Wally Matthews wrote and the quotes provided by Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long earlier today.
We looked into the plate appearances in which Teixeira was most likely to see a defensive shift-- hitting left-handed with nobody on base.
The results of that are the two charts that we have to the right of the text. The first shows Teixeira's overall performance in those situations. The second shows Teixeira's performance specifically in situations in which he pulled the ball.
The number that jumps out in the second chart, is the last one in the last row-- the 55 percent ground-ball rate is not what the Yankees are used to seeing from Teixeira in those situations.
One thing that Long didn't note is that opposing pitchers have gotten smarter.
Teixeira as LHB
Pulled Ball, No one On Base
The Rays are among those who have figured out how best to deal with Teixeira. In 2009, when he hit left-handed with no one on base against the Rays, he was 7-for-22. The last two seasons: he's 6-for-50.
What's happened is that Teixeira is seeing more and more pitches in these situations in the lower-third of the strike zone (35 percent in 2009, 42 percent over the last two seasons). The adjustment has coincided with results that have kept Teixeira's production down.
Now it's Teixeira's turn to adjust. It will be worth watching to see if he does in 2012.