Is Mark Teixeira a 1st Round Draft Choice?

Mar 3, 2009


Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

mark-teixeira-yankees1

The end of the first round is a cloudy proposition to say the least.  Who belongs?  Who doesn’t?  With an ADP of 12.91, according to Mock Draft Central, Mark Teixeira sits right on the border.  He’s been drafted as high as pick #6 and as low as #19.  There’s no questioning that he is one of the best options available to you, but should you be selecting him at the end of the first round?

The first step is to look at the numbers he posted last season:

574 At Bats
.308 Batting Average (177 Hits)
33 Home Runs
121 RBI
102 Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.410 On Base Percentage
.552 Slugging Percentage
.321 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Moving to a loaded Yankees line-up, it is hard to imagine Teixeira seeing any real drop-off in 2009.  He’ll likely be hitting clean up, with Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez setting the table for him.  Those three players posted OBP last season of .375, .363 and .382, respectively, in 2008.  Amazingly, all three could also see increases in 2009, meaning there will be plenty of opportunity to drive in runs.

Steroid scandal and all, Alex Rodriguez is going to get his share of RBI, but don’t look at that as a reason to avoid Teixeira.  Remember the years posted by David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in Boston?  In 2004 Ortiz picked up 139 RBI, while Ramirez had up 130.  In 2005 it was 148 and 144.  Yes, there will be more then enough opportunity to go around for both A-Rod and Teixeira this season.

The stadium is a factor, though it is difficult to say with the Yankees moving into their brand new ballpark for 2009.  Still, a switch hitter, the dimensions of the new stadium are identical to the old, with it being just 318 down the line to left and 314 to right.

Over the past few seasons, he’s posted the following lines in the old stadium:

  • 2005: 32 AB, .250, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R
  • 2006: 16 AB, .438, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R
  • 2007: 14 AB, .429, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
  • 2008: 14 AB, .286, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R

It’s tough to draw too many conclusions based on those numbers, though it is surprising to see the lack of power he’s posted.  Could he be a product of playing in hitter friendly parks such as Texas and Atlanta?  He did hit 13 HR in just 193 AB after being acquired by the Angels last season, so that doesn’t hold much water.

He has not been the same player who hit 81 HR between 2004 & 2005, however.  Over the past three seasons he’s posted 33, 30 and 33 HR, a consistently good number, but certainly not one of the elite.  For comparison purposes, here’s what a few other players have done over the same time frame:

  • Manny Ramirez – 92 HR
  • Lance Berkman – 108 HR
  • Chase Utley – 87 HR

The advantage for Teixeira is his stability, with him you know what you’re going to get.  Utley had just 22 in 2007 and enters the season injured, with his debut date in question.  Berkman has been on a 3-year decline, hitting just 29 last season.  With Manny, especially with the contract negotiations, you run the risk of Manny being Manny, so who knows what that will mean.

Consistency means a lot, giving Teixeira the edge over a lot of other options available to you at the end of the first round.

We haven’t touched on the average yet, where Teixeira is a career .290 hitter with three seasons above .300, including each of the past two.  His BABIP last season was a maintainable .321, though he struck out significantly less then he had in the past:

  • 2005 – 19.3%
  • 2006 – 20.4%
  • 2007 – 22.7%
  • 2008 – 16.2%

It’s hard for me to believe that he suddenly developed an improved eye at the plate like that and a regression is likely.  That would likely hurt his average, at least slightly.  Unfortunately for owners, Teixeira has never really found the middle ground, it’s either .280 or .300.  Given the past two seasons, it’s tough to bet against a number right around .300, though there is some concern here.

He has never posted a season with a BB rate of less then 11.1% since his rookie season.  Since 2006 he’s been no worse then 12.4%.  He’s posted OBP’s of over .400 each of the past two seasons, giving him ample opportunity to score runs.

He has three seasons over 100 runs scored and one more at 99.  The Yankees have a talented, deep line-up, with names like Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui, Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady likely to be hitting behind him.  There are questions, of course, but he should once again have an opportunity to exceed 100 runs scored.

Wrap that all up and do we get a first round draft choice?  It’s certainly close.  Last week I said that I wouldn’t take Hamilton in the first round because there were too many concerns regarding his stability in performance.  Teixeira is the exact opposite.  You know just about exactly what you are going to get:

  • .295 average or better
  • 30+ HR
  • 110+ RBI
  • Around 100 R

That’s an impressive line and one that any owner would love to have on his team.  With that type of consistency, it makes it worth grabbing him at the tail end of the first round in my book.  I’d feel much safer tabbing him over Hamilton any day.

What do you think?  Is Teixeira a player you would grab in the first round or would you rather wait until the second?

Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

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