Bunting for Dollars

Mark Teixeira didn’t have a very good season in 2011. Not by his standards (and pay packet), anyway. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times showed in August that the extreme shift Teixeira faces while hitting left-handed caused the Yankees switch-hitter big troubles.

Mark Teixeira isn’t one to take poor performance lying down. Sure, Mark Teixeira makes $23 million dollars a year to hit for power in the heart of the Yankees lineup. Rather than limply smack balls into the teeth of the defense, Teixeira has a plan: bunting.

That is right. At an awards dinner last night, Teixeira told the New York Times of his vow to work on his bunting skills this spring training in an attempt to thwart the overloaded infields he sees during every port side at bat.

Sure, Teixeira is a guy with a career .250 ISO who, by his own admission, hasn’t bunted since his freshman year of high school. Teixeira is getting older now and he realizes it might be time to make key adjustments to stay productive.

How does one capitalize on this new-found dedication to the flaccid arts? By ensuring you are in the Best Shape of Your Life come Spring Training! From the very same NYT piece:

Teixeira…said he had already made another important adjustment this off-season. He lost a considerable amount of weight, he said, by changing to a healthier diet.

Look out, Brett Gardner. Mark Teixeira is gunning for your role. Dropping bunts and dropping pounds. Teixeira is going to earn very last penny of the $23,125,000 the Yankees will ship him in 2012. And 2013. 2014 and 2015, too. Wait, he’s signed through 2016 as well? At $23.125 million per year?! That can’t be right.

Comments (20)

  1. Dude…just do what you do best and HIT the ball. This just proves the mind games are getting to you Tex.

    Don’t hate the playa’s, hate the game…

  2. I think it is a great idea to keep the defence honest, game theory and all that, assuming he has a high success rate and no one is on base. Realistically though, he’s not gonna do it. Even if he does do it a few times, as soon as he fails in a bunt attempt, the experiment will end.

  3. Name players who you have seen bunt to beat the shift with nobody on base. I’ll start:

    Brain McCann.

  4. I’ve seen Luke Scott do it a few times before, frankly if Tex does it against the Jays I won’t be too upset, I’d rather see him bunt for 3 hits than smack one tater.

    • Taking into account the win probability odds I think Tex would be slated to score more runs if he gets on base 3 times as opposed to once.

      • I don’t agree. Any time a guy as powerful as Tex isn’t trying to take you deep, you’re ahead of the game.

        • I’m not sure of the numbers, but I would guess it to be different for Tex on the Yankees versus Bautista on the Blue Jays. With a powerful lineup, getting on base would be more valuable than with a weaker lineup.

          • True. But he has a 0% chance of hitting a home run and less than a 100% of reaching base safely. I’ll take my chances. He did hit 24 home runs from the left side last year.

        • Not true (ignoring context ie WPA). Quick numbers (probably somehow misunderstood by me) say: Tex had weighted runs created of 60 in 464 PA last year. Meaning an average run value of 0.13 per PA. A successful bunt (or walk) is worth about 0.3. So if he can bunt successfully more than 43% of the time he should do it.

        • But he does worse against the shift, so his against-the-shift run expectancy should be even lower than his aggregate.
          Those 464 PA where is left side numbers btw.

        • Meant as a reply to the Fangraphs article, but for some reason the reply button isn’t there.

          Sorry, but that article is a big waste of fancy statistics that totally ignores the substance of the idea. The article talks about all bunts, then it takes pitchers out, then it talks about sluggers … all completely irrelevant points.

          We’re not talking about him dragging bunts trying to beat out singles, we’re talking about him rolling balls the third base line against a shift with nobody within 70 feet of the line. This is a shift he’ll see with no one on, or probably with a guy on 1st. Context matters, but I can’t see how this isn’t creating value if he can do it at least 50% of the time. That’s a 1.000 OPS.

          And its not like he’s surrounded by a weak line up who needs him to hit. He spent most of last year with a combination of ARod and Cano hitting behind him.

  5. He might only have to drop a few down in order to force the opposition to change their defensive alignment, and make things less crowded on the right side. The bunts don’t have to be great, there is nobody at 3rd base.

    • And that’s the whole point. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bunted a bit in spring training just so the league knows he’s serious. At least then they have to keep somebody over there, just in case.
      Realistically though, he should just work on his opposite field swing.

  6. “The Flaccid Arts” HAHAHA AWESOME

  7. Bautista’s always showing bunt early in his ABs. I’m just glad it’s never a serious consideration for him.

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