We interrupt your regularly scheduled baseball news to bring you this shocking report: Everything you think you know about lefty/righty splits is correct.
But why not kill some time and look into it anyway? We’ve long known that left-handed batters struggle with left-handed pitchers. We’ve also known the same goes for right-handed batters versus right-handed pitchers. Heck, we even know that lefties struggles against lefties more than righties struggle against righties. (Confused yet?) So why am I wasting your time telling you this?
Because I spent a little time today playing with some stats and I thought I’d share. I went back and looked at 275 of 2012′s fantasy-relevant hitters and found their slugging percentages for the 2010 through 2012 seasons versus both right-handed and left-handed pitchers. Then I graphed them, fancied up the graph a little, and calculated some averages.
If there’s one thing to explain, it’s why I chose slugging percentage as my metric. Here were the candidates:
- Batting Average — Gives equal credit to a bloop single and a Giancarlo Stanton moon blast.
- On-Base Percentage — Same problem as batting average even though it accounts for walks.
- Isolated Power — Removes singles from the equation, but there’s still something to be said for getting on base.
- On-Base Plus Slugging — Seriously considered this one, but why not just use slugging?
- Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) — Love this stat, but it’s not well understood by the casual fan.
That left slugging percentage, which seemed like the perfect stat. It accounts for both the power tool and the hit tool. The results are below (along with a few notes on what we see).
There aren’t a lot of crazy, crazy outliers, but there are certainly some noteworthy points. I thought it would behoove us to reveal a few of these individuals’ identities. We’ll break them up into a few categories.
Note: For all players below, SLG are listed as (vs. RHP/vs. LHP).
Right-Handed Hitters Who Crush LHP but Can’t Really Hit RHP
- Dayan Viciedo (.344/.621)
- Jeff Baker (.253/.475)
- Buster Posey (.451/.650) — OK, he can still hit RHP but he kills LHP at a whole new level
- Derek Jeter (.347/.521)
- Jason Bourgeois (.258/.427)
- Jesus Montero (.370/.520)
- Matt Diaz (.294/.426) — the poster boy for platoon outfielder in recent years
- Cody Ross (.407/.537)
Right-Handed Hitters Who Crush RHP but Aren’t That Good vs. LHP
- Miguel Cabrera (.632/.509) — the inverse of Posey
- Chris Heisey (.477/.382)
- Adam Jones (.493/.408)
- Chris Johnson (.453/.386)
- Jose Bautista (.606/.545) — same as Miggy, but better vs. LHP
Left-Handed Hitters Who Somehow Hit LHP Better Than RHP
- Brandon Belt (.401/.446)
- Peter Bourjos (.395/.421)
- Kelly Johnson (.421/.438)
- Josh Reddick (.456/.471)
Left-Handed Hitters Who Might As Well Be Blindfolded vs. LHP
- Seth Smith (.505/.271) — otherwise he’d be a very good fantasy option, but alas, he hits like a pitcher vs. LHP
- Adam Lind (.482/.268)
- Andre Ethier (.532/.323)
- Shin-Soo Choo (.516/.309)
- David DeJesus (.454/.250)
- Justin Morneau (.542/.367)
- Prince Fielder (.573/.404) — Rajai Davis has a higher SLG vs. LHP than Fielder; yes, you read that right
- Eric Hosmer (.472/.307)
- Jason Kipnis (.457/.300)
- Joe Mauer (.498/.345)
Switch Hitters Who Are Much Better vs. RHP
- Lance Berkman (.513/.370)
- Kendrys Morales (.505/.371)
- Pablo Sandoval (.491/.359)
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.487/.360)
- Ryan Doumit (.480/.359)
Switch Hitters Who Are Much Better vs. LHP
- Victor Martinez (.430/.607)
- Shane Victorino (.391/.540)
- Matt Wieters (.394/.504)
- Mark Teixeira (.450/.555)
- Carlos Beltran (.469/.567)
(Random Tigers Thought: So Cabrera is mortal against left-handed pitchers, and Fielder is no better than Bourjos, Belt, or Davis. Does that mean the Tigers are screwed if they run into C.C. Sabathia twice in a series or have to face Brett Anderson and Tommy Milone of the Athletics? Why am I worrying about this, Detroit isn’t making the playoffs. Finally when I thought I found something interesting!)
The numbers in the chart back up our assertion from the opening: Left-handed batters struggle more versus left-handed pitchers than righties do against righties. Also not surprising, switch hitters do almost equally well versus both.
If there’s one bit of insight we can glean from all this, it’s that the average slugging percentage for all batters is lower against left-handed pitchers than against right-handed pitchers. Of course, that jives with our general understanding of the game — that left-handed pitchers inherently have a better chance at succeeding than their right-handed counterparts — but why deviate from the tone of this post now and reveal something new?
Do you see any other obvious trend in the data that you already knew? Share it!