The Braves really needed [Teixeira] to help Chipper Jones carry the load in that first month and a half. It didn’t happen. Yunel Escobar and Brian McCann had torrid stretches in that period, but Tex didn’t.
The Braves got too far back and, each time they seemed poised to make a big move, they’d have a terrible series or two and push the frustration needle to the right.
Oh, it’s been a maddening season for Braves Nation, to be sure. Fairly or unfairly, Tex fell out of favor with many when he struggled early on and didn’t seen too concerned by it (he’d keep saying how he always started slow, that it was a marathon not a sprint, etc.).
People don’t want to hear that when they’re team is slipping in the standings and injuries are mounting. They want to hear how you feel terrible for not helping out, how you can’t look at yourself in the mirror because you’re not doing your part, that kind of thing.
Hey, it’s just human nature. And if you ask me, some people need a good PR agent to explain that to them, to explain that a little regret and beating one’s self up publicly goes a long way. But hey, I’m no PR agent.
Long story short, this was the year when Tex needed to buck his trend of slow starts. But it didn’t happen. Who knows if a huge first month from him could have made the difference for the Braves? But I can assure you, it sure would have made things a bit more interesting.
But, DOB is back with a new definition. Basically, Tex didn’t put the team on his back at a time when the team needed him. Now, I don’t think there is such thing as a clutch switch that allows the player to turn his ability on high at will. And, even if there is, why is it ever turned off? But, let’s break down the splits by month for the players DOB mentions.
Month Tex Escobar Mac April/March 0.797 0.839 0.854 May 0.792 0.698 1.075 June 1.041 0.782 0.776 July 0.983 0.546 1.145 Season 0.896 0.733 0.949
During the first two months of the season, Tex was good but nothing outstanding. In June and July, you know right after team ace John Smoltz announced he was out for the season (his last game was June 2), Tex exploded with an outstanding June and an excellent July. For the season, he’s got an OPS of about .900. That is the third best OPS on the club behind Chipper Jones and Brian McCann—there is no shame in that—but well above the other hitters on the team.
But, let’s compare him to the players that “carried the load” early in the season. McCann has been the better player for the season. April was his second-weakest month of the season, with an OPS of .854. That’s good, but not outstanding; and, I’m not trying to knock McCann. It was better than Tex’s first two months, but not by a wide margin. May was fantastic, and he blew Tex away—he blew most every player in the league away. Kudos to McCann; that’s why I’m a huge fan (see who sponsors his Baseball-Reference page). But in June, he dropped the load, at least according to DOB’s standards, with an OPS of .776. Tex, on the other hand, posted an OPS of 1.041. Both Mac and Tex are having a good July. Between Tex and McCann, Mac has been the better player, I’m not sure there is any shame in that. But if you’re going to complain about fluctuations in performance, McCann’s worst month was worse than Tex’s worst month.
As for Escobar, his best month was April, when he had an OPS of .839. Since that time he hasn’t been all that good an offensive player with OPS of .698, .782, and .548—all three of these months are worse than Tex’s season low. I don’t understand how Escobar has carried the team and Tex has not.
Player performance is variable and is heavily-influenced by chance. Fluctuations from day to day, week to week, month to month, and year to year are natural, expected, and not really controlled by ability. If you think that you can gather meaningful information from these swings, then you might as well become a day trader. Tex is a fine player who is going to garner a $20+ million annual salary after this season because he is an excellent ballplayer. I’m sure he’ll have other months like April and May of 2008, but he’ll also have plenty of Junes and Julys. In the end, the good and the up and the down average out to be a valuable major-league player.