Another year, another slow start for Mark Teixeira

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Mark Teixeira went hitless yesterday for the seventh time in eight games this season, going 0-for-4 to drop him to 3-for-31 (.097) on the year and earn him some boos once Yankees fans were sick of harassing Javier Vazquez.
Slow starts are actually nothing new for Teixeira and in fact April struggles have been a career-long story for the 30-year-old first baseman. For instance, last season Teixeira hit .200 with a .738 OPS in April and then batted .304 with 36 homers, 112 RBIs, and a .976 OPS in 137 games from May 1 on.
Here are yearly OPS numbers for April and post-April in Teixeira’s career:

YEAR     APRIL     MAY 1+
2003     .631       .836
2004     .984*      .926
2005     .807       .981
2006     .886       .886
2007     .686      1.025
2008     .797      1.000
2009     .738       .976
CAREER   .761       .944

For his eight-season, 1,068-game career Teixeira has a .761 OPS in April compared to a .944 OPS in all the other months, which is pretty amazing for a sample size of nearly 5,000 plate appearances. In five different seasons (2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009) his OPS in April was at least 170 points lower than his OPS after April, yet the only time his OPS in April was actually better than post-April was 2004, when injuries limited him to just eight April games.
Certainly figuring out why he gets off to such slow starts would be worthwhile for Teixeira and the Yankees, but short of that his being 3-for-31 after eight games shouldn’t really worry anyone. He does this more or less every season and yet for his career has still managed to hit .289 with a .377 on-base percentage and .541 slugging percentage to rank 13th among all active players with a .919 OPS.
Maybe he’s just giving everyone else a head start.

Tyler Moore: the ballplayer everyone is talking about

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For those who don’t know, Alexa is Amazon’s digital assistant product. It’s Amazon’s version of Siri or Google Home, but you can use it for a lot more stuff if you have a device such as the Amazon Echo. With simple voice commands it can turn on your lights, turn up your air conditioner, play your music, order stuff you’re running out of, answer questions you have and a bunch of other things. It may also snitch on you to the CIA, but that’s a topic left for another day.

Anyway, Amazon is pretty proud of its product and today sent me a press release touting how fans use Alexa to “get player stats, team records, starting lineups and more!” Amazon also gave me a list telling me how baseball fans have used Alexa in the past year:

“As we enter the MLB playoffs this year, we wanted to share a snapshot of the most asked about MLB players and teams among fans throughout this season, according to Alexa.”

Cool! I love lists. Let’s see who Alexa users are searching for!

Top 10 Asked About Players this MLB Season:

1. Tyler Moore
2. Albert Pujols
3. Aaron Judge
4. Mike Trout
5. Bryce Harper
6. David Ortiz
7. Alex Rodriguez
8. Anthony Rizzo
9. Clayton Kershaw
10. Chris Young

I don’t have any problem with 2-9 on this list, but I gotta tell ya friends, I’m not sure that America’s most searched-for ballplayer is a guy who Baseball-Reference.com lists first as a “pinch hitter” who is sporting a line of .206/.247/.377 for a team ranking 28th out of 30 in attendance this year. I’m also skeptical of Chris Young at number ten, and that’s even if you put the search totals for BOTH Chris Youngs together and count them as one.

It’s possible that there is far greater national curiosity for Moore and Young than I realized.  It’s also possible that Moore and Young’s parents are just heavy duty Alexa users.

I suspect though, quite strongly, that Alexa — or the P.R. staff touting its abilities — is having trouble distinguishing between Tyler Moore and Mary Tyler Moore, who passed away back in January and was likely the subject of many more people’s curiosity than the Nationals’ 2008 16th round draft pick. Though, I’m sure, if given the chance, Tyler could turn the world on with his smile too.

All of which might be a bit distressing for Amazon, given that it’s their business to make sure customers get what they’re looking for. It’s good for us as human beings, however, because it suggests that, perhaps, we are much farther away from the Rise of the Machines than we sometimes suspect.

Brad Ausmus seems to know he’s a dead man walking

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The Tigers have been terrible and the embarked on a rebuild this summer, shipping off Justin Verlander and multiple other players. Miguel Cabrera is hurt and may never be his old MVP-level self. It is, without a doubt, that the Tigers and their fans are about to begin a new chapter in the franchise’s history.

Such new chapters usually involve new managers. Fourth-year manager Brad Ausmus is still at the helm and the Tigers have made no public statement about his future. Ausmus, however, is a lame duck, with his contract ending a week from Sunday. He is also no fool. He seems to know very well that he’s not going to be around next year. From Katie Strang of The Athletic:

Ausmus, of course, has been on the hot seat several times. When Detroit exercised his option for this year, their refusal to extend it sent a pretty clear signal.

If this is the end of the road in Detroit for Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager, it will end with him having missed the playoffs in three of his four seasons at the helm of a star-studded team that was expected to Win Now, as they say. Yes, there were a lot of issues with the Tigers — their bullpen has always been a problem and the brass made a lot of questionable choices in signings and trades over the past few years — but there is no escaping the fact that Ausmus’ Tigers under achieved.