How do left-handed specialists make the most of their platoon advantage, and at what cost does their approach come?
Growing up left-handed is a tough gig. We left-handers can't write a sentence in ink without needing to wash our hands, classroom scissors malfunction in our claw-like grips, and driving a stick-shift requires a certain degree of ambidexterity. In little league, defensive assignments were restricted to roaming the outfield pasture unless one happened to have a hyperactive pituitary gland, thus earning a trip to play first base with the right-handed infielders. I was able to fool one coach into putting me at catcher for a season, but that experiment was predictably short-lived.
The mound is a southpaw's chance at redemption, where the bar for lefties to gain acceptance is lowered. Left-handers sit right in the cross-hairs of the supply-demand curve in the majors due to the limited player-pool as well as a league-wide desire to exploit platoon splits (see table for 2012 figures). Just 10 percent of the world is left-handed, yet southpaws have been on the mound for 31 percent of all plate appearances this season. Lefty batters make up 44 percent of plate appearances, a function of the advantages that are inherent in a two-step head-start down the line, combined with the reality that it is much easier to switch sides of the plate than it is to alternate throwing arms.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
A look at the course of action teams from the senior circuit are considering this off-season, along with news and notes from around the major leagues.
The general managers' meetings get underway in Orlando today, which means trading season should soon reach full swing. So while a few deals have already been consummated, let's take a look at what is on the agenda for the 16 National League clubs this winter:
The Angels are becoming the cradle of managers, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.
When ESPN.com's Jayson Stark went about determining who the best manager in the major leagues was last January, he ultimately decided on the Angels' Mike Scioscia. Though Scioscia might stay out of the spotlight while honing his craft in Orange County, he is certainly worthy of being considered the best in his profession as he has taken to his teams to the postseason six times his 11 years on the job.
The favorite Cardinals must chase down the Reds to repeat as NL Central champions, along with news and notes from around the majors.
The Cardinals were considered to have the easiest road to a division title when the season began. PECOTA pegged them to win the National League Central by nine games. Furthermore, the Cardinals were universally picked to repeat as division champions by all the pre-season publications.
Three players to think about when playing the platoon advantage in Scoresheet.
One of the things I love about Scoresheet is the ability to play platoon splits to set your optimal lineup. I find myself visiting my team on a daily basis, revisiting my lineups to get the most value out of my team.
What follows is a look at three players whose roles should be adjusted in Scoresheet leagues based on their extreme platoon splits in the first quarter of the season. In an effort to uncover some potential hidden gems, I searched for players with greater than normal splits.
A conversation about analysis and the game with the former skipper and present-day talking head.
Buck Showalter is in many ways an old-school baseball man, but that doesn’t mean the former Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Rangers skipper doesn‘t value data -- or that he hasn’t for more than three decades. He unmistakably understands the mechanics of the game. Currently an analyst for ESPN, Showalter offered his thoughts on a variety of subjects, including how the game has (and hasn’t) changed, why Paul O’Neill could hit southpaws, why switch-sliders make good switch-hitters, and what makes the Twins the Twins.
'Tis the season for who needs what at what price, and poor-mouthing high and low, as the industry heads for Indy.
INDIANAPOLIS-Since it's the time of year to make a list and check it twice, all 30 major-league general managers are in the spirit. Not the spirit of the holidays, but the spirit of baseball's annual Winter Meetings, which begin here Monday. As GMs begin to converge on Indy today, all of them have wish lists, some longer than others. In order to fill those lists, though, they might have to give something up in return. With that in mind, here is a look at where all 30 teams stand on the eve of the winter meetings:
Will a third time be the charm rebuilding the Indians, plus news and views from around the game.
Mark Shapiro understands rebuilding. In eight years on the job as the Indians' general manager, he has been forced to do it twice. The first time came in 2002 in his first season after replacing John Hart as the club's general manager. When he took over, the Indians had been to the playoffs six times in the previous seven seasons, but the core group of players of those teams had either gotten too old or too expensive.
With sellers heavily outnumbered, how can everyone get what they want at the deadline?
The grumbling among most general managers is that it is too hard to make a trade in the current climate. Just 15 days remain until the July 31 deadline for making trades without securing waivers on players. However, 18 of the 30 major league clubs are still within five games of a playoff spot as the teams begin returning to action from the All-Star break tonight. Just nine teams can be considered definite sellers with the deadline approaching, leaving 21 clubs either looking to buy or at least stand pat. Thus, it is truly a sellers' market.
Can a manager cost his team a game? It's hard to tell, as the players throw the balls and swing the bats, leaving the managers to fill out the lineup cards, give the steal sign, pinch hit, and bring in numerous relievers. We don't get to mark down a home run or a strike out for the manager, as the best we can do is see what did happen when he made a choice, and surmise what might have happened with the opposite choice.