Patience May be a Virtue, But a Hot April Would be Nice Too

Take away his 3-for-4 performance in Sunday's 10-0 romp of Tampa Bay, and Mark Teixeira is 0-for-27 with a .182 OBP, 6 BB, and 3 RBIs so far this season.  Now in his 8th season in the majors, Teixeira has been around long enough for "small sample size" to no longer apply when gauging his monthly career splits. 

He is a bona fide consistently slow starter.

Over his career, the difference between Teixeira's April stats (.241 BA; .344 OBP; .761 OPS) and his combined stats across May-October (.296 BA; .383 OBP; .956 OPS) is remarkable.  Combine that with the fact that April seems to be the month in which he is either hitting the ball right at people when he does hit it or not hitting it hard enough to get past people (April is by far his worst BAbip month at .263 compared with a .315 BAbip across all other months) and you have the makings of a very bad and seemingly unlucky April every single year.

Dig a little deeper into each year of his career, and you'll see that this really is not an issue of a few horrid Aprils skewing the numbers.  In 3 of the 7 full seasons he has played, April was his worst month offensively by a large margin judging by his monthly .BA and .OPS splits.  In a 4th season (2008) his April was statistically slightly better than his May (with a .273/.797 in April and a .268/.792 in May) but both were far below his performance in every other month that year and, given that they are the first two months of the season anyway, still qualify as a very slow – and quite drawn out – start to that season.  In 2004 he only played 8 games in April and had by far his worst month in his first full month (May) when he hit .212/.735 so I count that as a a very slow start as well.

This leaves 2 out of his 7 seasons in the majors in which we can legitimately say that he did not have his worst month at the start of the season - 2005, when April (.262/.807) was his second worst offensive month after July (.229/.783), both of which were far far off the pace he set the rest of that season – a season in which he ended with a very respectable .301/.954 line; and 2006, the one year in his career to-date when you can say he started out strong (.293 / .886 in April).

I am trying to figure out if there is any discernable reason for this.  I don't know how to measure a batter's patience, but K:AB and # pitches seen per-AB seem like two good ways so I looked at Teix's ratios.  Judging from K:AB, Teixeira is actually more patient in April (when his K:AB is .187) than in the rest of the months combined when his K:AB is .203.  After much effort I realized (for the umpteenth time) that I simply don't have Paul-SF-like stat-jujitsu skills.  I simply can't calculate his pitches-per-AB across his career and split by month, but at least from the K:AB starting point, patience does not seem to be his issue.

So what is the reason?  I have no clue.  I do know that a slow start from Teix is certainly nothing to worry about when considering how he'll do across any given season.  But I sure would like to see him get off to a fast start one of these years.

8 comments… add one
  • I am trying to keep it together when he steps to the plate…keep the new positivity going. But he is really starting to test my patience, or lack thereof.
    I know he’ll get it together…but WHEN MARK??? WHEN???

    krueg April 15, 2010, 10:00 am
  • I made a mistake – without the Rays game Teix has 2 RBIs, not 3. sorry.
    And I share your barely-contained impatience krueg, esp at times like yesterday, when he came up in the middle of the 8th-inning come-back rally. Although he knocked in a run, he did it with a momentum-squelching groundout.

    IronHorse (YF) April 15, 2010, 10:22 am
  • He really needs to be switched in the order with J.D. Drew… wait, who are we talking about again? :-)

    Paul SF April 15, 2010, 10:42 am
  • Please do not compare the great JD Drew to the 15th best first baseman please Paul…for shame.

    krueg April 15, 2010, 11:10 am
  • “So what is the reason? ”
    I take Tex at his word. He’s got two swings to perfect and that takes time. I’ll start to worry when he isn’t putting up 40 HRs and 100 RBIs in the other five months.
    As I was thinking about Papi, I really wonder how much his manager is undermining him but based on the same principle. In a sense, hitting against different armed pitchers – LHP and RHP – is like preparing two different sets of pattern recognitions and adjusting the swing accordingly. Ortiz against LHP is finished. But Papi might still be there against RHP.

    Paul from Waltham April 15, 2010, 11:44 am
  • Perhaps PaulfW. But Posada – who has to manage new pitchers every year on top of the offensive challenge (or benefit?) of being a switch hitter – doesn’t seem to have the same April woes. It is an interesting point – I wonder if switch-hitters in general have a tendency to start slower than the average MLB one-way hitter. Don’t know.

    IronHorse (YF) April 15, 2010, 12:08 pm
  • shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that both teams have some underachievers and overachievers in mid april…i wouldn’t get too hung up on tex unless he’s injured…not sure i’d be all that hung up on papi either, given how early it is, but then again, he has lowell looking over his shoulder…

    dc April 15, 2010, 12:52 pm
  • “I wonder if switch-hitters in general have a tendency to start slower than the average MLB one-way hitter.”
    I have the same question. But even if there are trends, it could just be how Tex works. Moreover, if he thinks that’s the reason, how can we disprove that?

    Paul from Waltham April 15, 2010, 12:53 pm

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