Mark Teixeira in 2007 and 2008 was Joey Votto. Since he's become a Yankee, Teixeira is now Adam Dunn (before 2011). Well, that might be an over-exaggeration. But the truth is that Teixeira was a .300+/.400+/.500+ guy in 2007 and 2008 and with the Yankees the last two years has become a .245+/.340+/.480+ kind of guy. You could look at his BABIP that has been .268 and .239 the last two years respectively. The reflex would be to say that he's been unlucky. If it's just luck, then he's broken his rabbit's foot for two years running. The big difference in his outcomes seems to be positioning.
To be frank, this writer isn't an expert on the science of positioning. But there is a nebulous understanding that teams have gone high tech in this area and plot charts of every batter help teams understand where to play their fielders in just about every situation. This seems to be the case with Teixeira's numbers. Most aspects of his game have been consistent. His infield pop ups have increased the last two years somewhat dramatically. And the last two years have shown a rise in his overall fly ball rates. His home run to fly ball ratio has been consistently high. His pull rate has been remarkably consistent. You can count on 130 to 133 balls in play being pulled every season like clockwork. The only evidence missing here is the MPH of the balls off his bat, which admittedly is a big hole in this writer's logic.
The positioning effect on Teixeira's performance seems to show itself most prominently in his ground balls. If you watch enough Yankee games (and this writer watches a lot of them), most teams now employ the shift on Teixeira, especially as a left-handed batter. Teixeira has struggled mightily with this strategy. In 2008, Teixeira hit 209 grounders and batted .278 with those hit trajectories. In 2007, Teixeira hit 151 grounders good for a .245 average. In 2006, he hit 199 grounders and had a batting average of .236. Now jump ahead to his Yankees years. In 2009, he hit 182 grounders with a .187 average. In 2010, it was 172 grounders and a .186 average. In 2011, he hit 170 grounders and batted .184. We can see this better in chart form:
Obviously, Teixeira's power production hasn't suffered. He hit 39 homers in 2011 and drove in over a hundred. Perhaps the Yankees would continue to be happy with that. But Teixeira needs to make adjustments. Batting left handed, he has to beat the shift occasionally to make teams pay for their execution. Without the adjustments, this writer is firm in the conviction that what we've seen from Teixeira the past two seasons is what we will continue to get for the duration of his Yankee contract. That may be good enough, but he could be a whole lot better too.
It's also obvious, that a better analyst than this amateur could do more with these numbers. Feel free to do so. There will never be a claim here to expert analysis. But the points do raise questions about how positioning has defeated the overall effectiveness of Teixeira as an offensive player.