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Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Mark Teixeira's ill beginnings
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It doesn't take an expert to see that something isn't right with Mark Teixeira these days. The switch-hitting New York Yankees slugger is hitting only .227 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 164 plate appearances. After going 21-for-86 (.244) with three homers in the opening month, Teix has flailed in May (.203-2-8).
Some of the 32-year-old's incompetence can be blamed on a nasty virus that has led to bronchial inflammation; he's dealt with coughing fits, difficulty breathing and a lack of energy. The Yanks finally decided to rest the first baseman over the weekend; Teixeira took Friday and Saturday off before pinch hitting Sunday in a 5-2 loss.
He returned to the lineup - but in the seventh spot - Monday and went 1-for-4 with a double. He followed that up with a 1-for-3 performance last night. Skipper Joe Girardi is probably just easing him back in; with low energy levels it's unclear how much he can contribute at this point. Teixeira is frustrated that his illness has lingered, and Roger Rubin suggests that the medicinal options have been tried.
It's impossible to guess how long this could affect Teixeira, but the fact that he sat out only three days may suggest he's on his way to kicking this thing. The New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand suggests Teix has been dealing with this illness since the first week of the season.
If the illness is the main culprit for sapping him of his power, that's good news for fantasy owners, assuming he can overcome it soon.
Another thing to keep in mind is Teixeira has somewhat of a history of turning it on in the second half, and his career splits make a strong case for it; he's a .268/.361/.503 career hitter in the first half compared to a .294/.381/.557 batter post-All-Star break.
It's encouraging that in the seven games leading up to his three-game breather, he hit .296 (8-for-27) with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs.
Teixeira's BABIP (.228) is sitting at a career low, which partially explains his dismal batting average. However, three straight years of a decline in BA leave some wondering if he can even contribute in this category anymore. His on-base percentage has also mirrored his BA and dropped in each of the past three years.
Zach Schonbrun explains that Teixeira pointed to teams employing shifts against him as another reason for his drop in production over the last several seasons, specifically his average. While he made it a point to use the opposite field more this season to beat the shift, it doesn't appear that he's making good on that promise - at least not yet.
While Teixeira may never again hit .300, there is promise for a BA rebound. Once he regains his energy and strength, there's reason to believe the home runs will follow. Albert Pujols is off to an even slower start than Teix, and if we're expecting a bounce-back from The Machine, we should be able to from Teixeira, too. Right now may be the perfect time to buy low on the Yanks' first baseman.
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