I don't know how I missed this, but holy crap did Mark Teixeira have a terrible final month of the season. I have no excuse for missing it, since I wrote a post at the beginning of the month about how awful his August was, but I really didn't realize he was THAT bad in September. 82 plate appearances, a .178/.256/.301 slash line, a 28.0% K rate, only 5 extra-base hits (2 HR), 4 GIDPs, and -0.3 fWAR. Perfectly healthy or completely beat up, that's bottom-of-the-barrel bad. It's the type of production that usually gets guys DFA'd.
Obviously Teix was not going to suffer that fate, not when he has multiple years and $45 million remaining on his contract. But looking back at those numbers, it's fair to say he probably should have been shut down for the year much earlier in the month. All the evidence I referenced in the earlier post that suggested his body had had enough came to even greater fruition this month. He missed 6 more games, including 4 of the final 8, and continued his season-long trend of decreased OPS output in each month.
The poor September left Teix with a .216/.313/.398 tripleslash for the season. Excluding last season's 15-game sample size, those are his lowest seasonal averages in those categories by 32, 19, and 77 points respectively. That's not falling off the cliff, that's driving a flaming bus full of MRI machines, cortisone injections, and Icy Hot off the highest cliff in the world at full speed. Teix hasn't just declined or regressed, he's completely fallen apart, in a literal physical sense and a more figurative baseball sense.
As much as I'd like to point to all the injuries and the first year back from the tendon sheath surgery as the causes and rationalize the idea that another offseason to rest and strengthen will help him bounce back next year, I don't know if I can do that based on how bad his last 2 months were. Teix really isn't a good baseball player anymore. He can't hit for average, he strikes out more than he ever has, his power is at an all-time low, and he doesn't even field his position consistently well anymore. At age 35, his bat speed isn't suddenly going to come back, nor are his quick-twitch reactionary movements at first base or whatever foot speed he still has left. If anything, those things are going to continue to deteriorate along with his health.
The Yankees made a critical mistake by not signing a legitimate backup first baseman this past offseason. They suffered the consequences of that mistake time and time again as Teix missed chunks of time with injuries from April through July, and suffered them almost daily in August and September when he was one of the worst players on the team and the statistically worst starting first baseman in MLB. Teix and Joe have been saying all the right things about him getting healthy and being better in 2015, but the picture painted by his last 2 months is one of a player at or near the end of his time as a productive everyday player. One thing the Yankees absolutely cannot do this offseason is be foolish enough to anticipate a bounce back from Teix and not cover themselves with a good backup first baseman again.