How Much Bunting Should the New York Yankees Expect From Mark Teixeira?

I’m sure you’ve heard the story by now.  Well, it’s more just a subject to talk about than a “story”, but it is a nice way for us to keep ourselves sane as we count the days down to Spring Training.  Apparently, Mark Teixeira is talking about laying down some bunts for base hits in 2012 to beat the shift that defenses play against him when he bats from the left side.  The New York Yankees’ first baseman had this to say:

“If they’re playing a big shift, I might lay some bunts down this year.  I’ve been so against it my entire career, [but] I might lay down a few bunts. If I can beat the shift that way, that’s important.”

Now everyone knows that the New York Yankees aren’t paying Mark Teixeira to bunt, but the main point is that he is thinking about ways to improve his production.  Maybe he lays a few bunts down in Spring Training just to put it in the opposition’s scouting reports.  I’m not sure you’ll see any bunts laid down in the regular season though.  If you catch every inning of every game, maybe you’ll catch one or two attempts, but I’d even bet against that.  You could argue that opposing teams would prefer Teixeira to bat 1.000 on bunt singles than for him to play his normal game – even if his batting average was at .249.

What we will see though is Teixeira taking what’s given to him more often.  In pitcher’s counts, we’ll see more instances of him settling for a single through the left side instead of the strikeout or pop up that have become too familiar over the past couple of seasons.  Theoretically, a line drive single with the bases empty has the same impact as a bunt single in the same situation.  However, consistent line drives singles through a shift will eliminate the advantage of a shift more quickly than a handful of bunt singles.

I’m confident that Mark Teixeira put in the necessary work this offseason to address his putrid batting averages.  I’m also confident that any adjustments that Teixeira makes are not going to take away from his ultimate strength – run production.  As I mentioned above, the New York Yankees pay Teixeira to make the scoreboard light up – not to hit singles.  More ducks on the pond over the course of the season will undoubtedly be a plus for the Yankees, but they don’t want Teixeira wearing out his Ichiro Suzuki impression.

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  • Shavager

    What part of bunting shouldn’t be in a player’s ability? Doesn’t make any difference if he’s a .300 avg hitter or 500 HR batter, bunting is as much a part of baseball as stealing a base is. Most don’t remember Mickey Mantle was called the “Commerce Comet” because he could bunt from left side of plate and reach first base faster than anyone in the league. Teixeira could not only change defense philosophy against him, could raise BA as well as increase offensive stats and provide base runner for teammates to advance or knock in. Great idea, Mark, lay down a few, watch opponents shift the shift.

    • craigwilliams

      Well, every player should be able to bunt, but that doesn’t mean that he should be called on to bunt or that he should bunt willingly. I really don’t mind Mark Teixeira taking slop offerings on the outer third of the plate to left field for singles when he’s behind in the count (as opposed to popping them up), but dropping down bunts is just so counter to Teixeira’s approach. I want him using his first two strikes to inflict damage, not trying to drop down drag bunts.

      As far as Mickey Mantle, I was not fortunate enough to get to see him play, but he’s a significantly different player from Mark Teixeira – at least as far as speed is concerned.