I wrote more of less the same thing in the offseason, and I think the past month or two has pretty well driven home the point. The obsession with Tex’s pull hitting began in the form of pure narrative: defense’s were shifting him from the left side, and his batting average and BABIP went down. Ipso facto, he needed to work on shortening up his swing and hitting away from the shift. It made sense in theory, but the problem was that it wasn’t very well supported by the actual data from the 2011 season. Teixeira’s groundball rate, the plays that would be the most affected by the infield shift, was actually pretty low, and was even lower when he hit from the left side of the plate. The real problem for Tex was that his flyball rate went way up, and particularly that he started hitting a bunch of pop ups, while fewer of those flyballs ended up being home runs than is normal for him.
In short, it wasn’t so much where the balls were being it, but that they weren’t being hit as hard as Tex normally hits them. That’s not mutually exclusive to being too conscientious about pulling the ball, of course, and it certainly did seem that nothing bedeviled Teixeira quite like a changeup on the outer half of the plate, but it’s not intrinsically linked to that factor either. It’s entirely possible that Tex was just a little bit off, or somewhat unlucky in his performance last year.
Whatever the cause of the problems were, Teixeira seems to have worked things out now. His OPS and wRC+ are both more or less identical to the numbers he posted last season, which is a lot more impressive than it sounds at first when you consider the slow start he got off to this season while dealing with that nasty breathing problem. He also seems to be much more confident and comfortable in his approach at the plate, and that’s translating into some pretty nice results. Over this most recent month, Teixeira has managed to put MVP caliber numbers, hitting .309/.398/.654 (176 wRC+). I’m not sure Teixeira is ever going to put up MVP like numbers over a full season again, but he’s definitely showing that he’s still capable of doing it in spurts these days, which is certainly nice to see.