Sunday, February 03, 2013

The overvaluation of veterans and batting average

Mark Texeira admits he's overpaid in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, now that he's on the downside of his career and still getting better than $20 million per season. The story places way too much import on batting average -- 

When he arrived in New York in 2009 on an eight-year deal, Teixeira immediately delivered the season the fans expected: a masterpiece of .292, 39 home runs, 122 RBIs.
Then he passed 30. Things got a little harder, nagging injuries added up, heavy weightlifting took a greater daily toll. Teams began to defend him differently, shifting extra infielders to the area between first and second bases to neutralize his dead-pull stroke. Teixeira's batting average fell, from its traditional .290 perch to .256 in 2010, and then .248 in 2011. The power was still there, but the base hits were disappearing.
He spent the winter before the 2012 season changing his swing, hoping it would make him a .290 hitter again, despite the defensive shifts and the effects of age. He was hoping for that magic formula that would snap him back to what everyone expected of him.
It didn't work. His new approach, coupled with a persistent bronchial infection, had Teixeira on track for career lows two months into the season. Halfway through 2012, he decided that he was focusing on the wrong things. In working to please others, he was trying to be something he might no longer be able to be. His production spiked before a calf injury shortened his season.
"You can't make everybody happy no matter what. I need to concentrate on what I do well. And what I do well is hitting home runs, driving in a lot of runs, and playing great defense," Teixeira said.
That mindset has pleased the Yankees, at least. General Manager Brian Cashman says that as long as Teixeira is hitting 30 homers, 100 RBI, and putting up a mid-.800s on-base plus slugging percentage, that's more than enough.
"Whatever he was working on before clearly didn't work. So I think you should stay with your strengths, no doubt about it," Cashman said.
Cashman has accepted that the .290 averages are probably a thing of the past. "You always want more," Cashman said. "But it's a pretty long sample now of three years in the .248-to-.256 range, for three straight years. So I think that's the new norm for him."
It may sound odd in the context of a lower average, but Teixeira comes off as a man brimming with confidence. He has accepted what he is, and what he is not—and that is enough.
"I want to be the player who hits home runs, drives in runs," Teixeira said. "I'd love to get back to the player that I've always been, but if I hit .250, .260, instead of .280, so be it." 

MY COMMENT -- He's a damn good player with a WAR of over 43. Since he became a Yank, he's had solid seasons with  5.1, 3.9, 3.0 and 3.6. 


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