After the game last night, there’s no doubt who the Yankees’ most productive pitcher has been. When it comes to hitting, the answer is more complicated. To this point, Yangervis Solarte has not only been the best hitter for the Yankees, he’s been one of the best hitters in all of baseball. But will this last? No one has the answer to that, as he’s just been too good for too long to simply write off as lucky. But there’s been a player on the Yankees that’s been equally as good, and someone that’s also surprising a number of early-season projections.
Mark Teixeira now has 8 home runs on the season, and this comes after missing two weeks with a hamstring strain. He’s now hitting .270/.375/.562 on the season with a 156 wRC+. His batted ball rates are perfectly in line with his career, 20.9% line drives (20.8% career), 38.8% ground balls (38.3% career), and 40.3% fly balls (40.9% career). When it comes to BABIP, his .271 is .020 points lower than his career rate, though that number has fallen over the last few years thanks to his declining speed and the number of shifts increasing. More specifically, Teixeira owns a batting average of .154 on his ground balls (.207 career), .333 on fly balls (.286 career), and .786 on line drives (.723 career).
His overall batted ball rates and averages on those hits don’t show anything immediately lucky about his performance thus far. His low ground ball average is due to the previously mentioned speed decline and shifts, the high fly ball average comes from the number of home runs he’s hit, and the line drive rate is maybe one stolen hit away from returning to his career rates.
When it comes to plate discipline, Teixeira looks like he’s rebounded from last year’s poor numbers. After showing just a 75.4% contact rate in an injury-plagued 2013, he’s rebounded to 82.3% there, which isn’t far from his career 80.7%. Other numbers such as swing rates inside and outside the zone, contact inside and outside the zone, and the percentage of swinging strikes have all moved to his normal career rates, indicating that he’s the same hitter he’s always been.
While we’re all enjoying the brilliant season that Yangervis Solarte has put together, it looks like it’s time that we recognize that Mark Teixeira rebounded from his wrist surgery. Many expected that the first baseman’s spot would be a black hole of production over the next few years following his serious injury, but all the numbers suggest that he’s the same hitter as before. Sure, age will come, some pitchers will figure out a new weakness, and more injuries will happen, but for now, Teixeira is quietly carrying this offense on his back.