By Jon Lane
Mark Teixeira for MVP?
It has merit. Right now, you the readers are making it clear that Teixeira is the Yankees’ MVP at the moment. Teixeira’s production has been front and center. On May 12, he was batting .191. It was a matter of time before he’d turn up the heat, but with each passing strikeout or pop up, along with that body language that suggested he’d rather be elsewhere, that was becoming harder to believe.
A snapshot look at what Teixeira has done since:
- Batted .330 in May to raise that average 90 points
- Slugged 10 home runs with 24 RBIs last month
- Bumped his slugging percentage from .321 to .595.
Currently, Teixeira ranks in the AL Top 10 in slugging (ninth), homers (T-2nd) and RBIs (fourth). Say what you want about how the return of Alex Rodriguez has helped, and it’s helped immensely, no questions asked. But the biggest reason behind the Yankees record-breaking 18 straight games without an error? Teixeira and his Gold Glove at first base. The biggest play of Tuesday’s 12-3 win over the Rangers? Teixeira’s hard slide into second base after Vicente Padilla plunked him for the second time in the game. Words were exchanged, but instead of throwing punches, Teixeira and Co. hit Padilla and the Rangers where it hurt the most, the scoreboard. That hard slide broke up a potential inning-ending double play and led to a seven-run fourth inning.
One doesn’t need protection to do that, not even from a three-time AL MVP.
A lot of times, MVP awards are handed out to those with the best numbers rather than the one who defines the term to its truest form. On May 13, Teixeira improved his average from .191 to .202 with a 2-for-4, two-RBI day in the Yankees’ 8-2 win over the Blue Jays. New York is 16-4 since while winning nine of its last 11 home games. Furthermore, the Yankees are a season-high 10 games over .500 – a feat not accomplished until Game 100 last season – and are now the AL’s top team. Best of all, they’re 6-4 against teams also currently in first place (Tigers, Rangers, Phillies). Not a bad way to resume a stretch that after Texas will include the Rays before a trip north to Boston to face a Red Sox team 5-0 against them.
Derek Jeter MVP? Unlikely at the moment, but – again – after a close examination of Most Valuable Player, it has merit. In the Yankees’ current 16-4 run, Jeter is batting .400 with a .474 on-base percentage and a .576 slugging percentage and isn’t too shabby as a leadoff hitter. The Captain has hit safely to lead off the first inning in 10 of his last 12 games since May 21 (seven singles, three doubles).
From the hard to believe department: Jeter turns 35 in three weeks. As Peter Abraham points out, he’s in pretty good company. Future Hall of Famer? Yeah, that has merit too.