Mark Teixeira is the bat the Yankees have needed

Getty Images / Jim McIsaac I used to be down on Mark Teixeira. I felt bad for him because of the injuries, but at the same time, the injuries drove me crazy.

The Yankees paid a lot of money for him and he couldn’t stay healthy over the last several years. I wondered if Teixeira would actually be good again – or come close to what he did in New York in 2009. That year, he was great: 122 RBI, 39 HR, .292 BA, .948 OPS, and finished second in the MVP voting.

This year, my feelings for Teixeira have been different. I love all the extra base hits, but it actually looks like Teixeira is having fun. I see a lot of smiles out there and he genuinely looks like he is enjoying baseball. This hasn’t been the case for the last couple of years.

But even greater than my feelings – because, really, it doesn’t matter what I feel about him – is that New York needs this. Teixeira needs to be a powerful bat in the middle of that order and the Yankees have needed him to be a threat rather than a pop-up machine.

Batting average isn’t everything, but from 2010 to Wednesday, his BA was .244 with an OBP of .341. From 2003-08, his average was .290 with an OBP of .378. When he comes in batting close to .300 – and .308 in 2008, there is a certain expectation. After the 2010, he didn’t live up to them.

It’s great to see Teixeira having a healthy season. Even though his batting average is not great, Teixeira is making the most of his at-bats. The 2015 All-Star has 24 home runs with 65 RBI, and more than half of his hits been of the extra-base variety.

These are legitimately Teixeira’s best numbers in about four years. A good Teixeira, plus a good ARod and great bullpen has the Yankees sitting in first place in the AL East.