ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting today that Mark Teixeira will announce his retirement, effective at the end of the 2016 season, in a press conference at 3:00 today.
This would end a 14-year Major League career for Teixeira, in which he achieved many notable milestones and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest switch hitters of all time.
Mark Teixeira’s career was highly successful from start to finish. Originally a first/third baseman with the Texas Rangers, Teixeira found himself most comfortable at first base over time. With the Rangers, Teixeira collected two Sliver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves and was recognized as one of the game’s budding young talents.
But as the Rangers’ franchise remained stuck in neutral and sought to sell big on its talent, Teixeira was shipped to the Atlanta Braves, for whom he raked over parts of two seasons.
A free-agent-to-be in the midst of his prime and wasting away on a losing team, the Braves dealt Teixeira to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the 2008 stretch run. Teixeira boosted his stock to unheard of levels thanks to his dominant performance with the Angels.
In just 54 games with the Angels, he totaled 13 home runs and 27 extra-base hits, good for a 1.081 OPS. The Angels disappointingly fell in the ALDS to the Boston Red Sox, but Teixeira held up his end by mashing to the tune of a .437 average and .550 OBP.
Now a free agent for the first time in his career, Teixeira was poised for a massive payday. However, few predicted the lucrative contract he signed with the Yankees, who weren’t even in dire need of a first baseman (they planned on using Nick Swisher as their first baseman).
When it was all said and done, Teixeira was an expensive Christmas present: his contract amounted up to an 8-year, $180 million pact. The Yankees, fresh off of spending big on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, were ready to return to the World Series.
Yet Teixeira failed to hit the ground running in Yankee pinstripes. The absence of Alex Rodriguez due to injury put more pressure on Teixeira, who slashed just .200/.367/.371 in April and hit only 3 home runs.
But after overcoming his customary slow start, Teixeira’s first year in the Bronx was arguably his best year ever. He led the American League in home runs (39) and RBI (122), finished second in AL MVP voting, won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger, and an All-Star nomination.
Luckily, the best for Teixeira was yet to come that year. He had some memorable moments in the 2009 postseason, which culminated in his first and only World Series Championship.
Teixeira only batted a collective .180 in the postseason, but his presence was always felt. Batting third in the Yankee order, big at-bats always found Teixeira, who more often than not rose to the occasion.
His most defining hit in a Yankee uniform came in the 2009 ALDS against the Minnesota Twins. With the Yankees tied in the 11th inning, Teixeira came up to bat and delivered a “Tex Message” to the first row of the left field seats.
Teixeira continued his success in the 2009 World Series, in which he hit a game-tying home run late in Game 2 and scored 5 runs in the 6 games. When the dust finally settled, Teixeira and the Yankees were World Series Champions.
Teixeira maintained his steady level of production from 2010-2012, averaging 32 home runs and 101 RBI over the time period. He added two more Gold Gloves during that time, further solidifying his place as the game’s finest defensive first baseman.
However, postseason success eluded Teixeira and the Yankees, who never made it back to the World Series after their 2009 triumph.
Things began to change for Teixeira around the 2013 season, which was over before it even began for the Yankee slugger. He tore a muscle in his wrist while practicing for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, and ended up only playing in 15 games for the Yankees, hitting just .151 with 3 home runs.
The injury bug continued to bite Teixeira in the 2014 season, as he only played in 123 games due to a variety of lower-body ailments. It was his worst full season in the bigs, as he hit just 22 home runs and compiled an uncharacteristic .711 OPS.
However, Teixeira still had one more All-Star season left in him. The 2015 season was going to possibly be Teixeira’s best of his career before a shin injury forced him to the DL after 111 games. But despite missing about a third of the season, Teixeira still blasted 31 dingers and 79 RBI while achieving a .908 OPS.
Teixeira was hopeful for a continuation of his 2015 success in 2016 and beyond, but more lower body injuries have hampered his production this year. He has shown flashes of his old self, but with his contract due to expire and his heart not in the game as it once was, Teixeira will announce his retirement (effective after the conclusion of the 2016 season) today.
Mark Teixeira’s legacy is not a complicated one: he is simply one of the finest switch-hitters ever to play the game. He currently has 404 home runs, which places him fifth on the all-time switch-hitter home run list. He has made 3 All-Star teams and won 3 Silver Sluggers and 5 Gold Gloves.
Teixeira also holds some records all his own.The only infielders with 400 home runs and 5 Gold Gloves are Teixeira and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. And the record for most times to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game? Yup, that’s Teixeira’s too (he has done it 14 times, and counting).
Teixeira’s career is profiled by Baseball Reference as being most similar to another Yankee fan favorite’s, Tino Martinez. It got Tino a plaque in Monument Park, so Teixeira should sit by his phone in the coming years for sure.
All in all, Mark Teixeira was a great Yankee. He was never the centerpiece of any team, but he always gave 110% at all times and left it all out on the field.
With Teixeira’s retirement, the only Yankees from the 2009 Championship team still on the Yankees are Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, and CC Sabathia. It is the end of an era for sure, but what an era it was.