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Greetings Razzball nation, and welcome to another edition of The Numbers Game. Suffering through a long week at work? Looking for a break? Come along with me on a trip to a little town called Splitsville (disclaimer: not a real place). I guarantee you that we’ll have a delightful time there (satisfaction not guaranteed). At the very least, I have a lukewarm inclination that this post will help to pass the time during your afternoon trip to the can (sure, why not). I’ll take it!

Before we go any further, allow me to eliminate any confusion that the title of this post may have created for some of you. Rather than specifically highlighting left-handed sluggers, we’re looking to identify the MLB hitters who mash left-handed pitching. For those of you who play in leagues that feature daily lineup changes, this post should prove to be relevant for you. For those of you who don’t participate in such a league, sign up for an RCL today!

Now that you’re all signed up and ready to go, let’s get back to the task at hand. Here are the search criteria that were used for this exercise:

2013-2014 MLB seasons

Split vs LHP only

Minimum 150 PA

ISO of at least .200

OPS of at least .800

Just like the majority of the posts in this series, the thought process behind these search requirements is simple: include multiple seasons to reduce the impact of a small sample size while establishing minimum ISO and OPS marks that represent above average production in those categories. I used OPS as a criterion (instead of wOBA) to represent the ability to reach base without compromising the power requirements in any way.

To provide context, here are the MLB averages for hitters in certain key categories during the 2013 and 2014 seasons:

Season BB% K% BB/K AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP
2013 7.90% 19.90% 0.4 0.253 0.318 0.396 0.714 0.143 0.297
2014 7.60% 20.40% 0.37 0.251 0.314 0.386 0.7 0.135 0.299

Since there were 50 players who met the search criteria for this exercise, I split the results up into two tables. Table #1 features the players who produced a .240+ ISO against left-handed pitching across the ’13-’14 seasons, and can be seen here (sorted by ISO):

Name Team PA BB% K% BB/K AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP
Josh Donaldson OAK 383 12.30% 13.10% 0.94 0.307 0.397 0.629 1.026 0.322 0.296
Jose Abreu CWS 158 12.00% 21.50% 0.56 0.353 0.437 0.662 1.098 0.309 0.409
Justin Upton ATL 303 18.20% 25.70% 0.71 0.276 0.407 0.581 0.989 0.305 0.318
Giancarlo Stanton MIA 261 17.20% 18.00% 0.96 0.31 0.429 0.611 1.04 0.301 0.333
Mark Trumbo – – – 266 8.60% 24.80% 0.35 0.26 0.327 0.554 0.881 0.293 0.289
Miguel Cabrera DET 340 14.10% 16.20% 0.87 0.332 0.424 0.622 1.046 0.29 0.35
Jose Bautista TOR 250 15.20% 12.40% 1.23 0.303 0.412 0.591 1.003 0.288 0.284
Steve Pearce BAL 199 11.60% 13.10% 0.88 0.301 0.392 0.584 0.976 0.283 0.301
Khris Davis MIL 186 5.40% 25.30% 0.21 0.254 0.306 0.533 0.839 0.278 0.274
Troy Tulowitzki COL 231 16.00% 12.10% 1.32 0.351 0.463 0.628 1.091 0.277 0.356
Aramis Ramirez MIL 197 7.10% 17.30% 0.41 0.315 0.376 0.59 0.966 0.275 0.331
Hanley Ramirez LAD 215 13.00% 17.70% 0.74 0.312 0.405 0.586 0.991 0.274 0.343
Matt Wieters BAL 200 6.00% 23.00% 0.26 0.277 0.315 0.549 0.864 0.272 0.295
Wilin Rosario COL 245 4.90% 15.50% 0.32 0.32 0.351 0.589 0.94 0.268 0.328
Scott Van Slyke LAD 206 13.60% 24.30% 0.56 0.285 0.388 0.552 0.941 0.267 0.333
Paul Goldschmidt ARI 269 15.60% 16.00% 0.98 0.333 0.434 0.599 1.034 0.266 0.357
John Mayberry – – – 190 10.00% 14.20% 0.7 0.241 0.316 0.506 0.822 0.265 0.231
Carlos Gomez MIL 282 7.80% 18.10% 0.43 0.287 0.362 0.55 0.912 0.263 0.31
Evan Gattis ATL 177 5.10% 20.90% 0.24 0.295 0.328 0.548 0.876 0.253 0.322
Andrew McCutchen PIT 241 14.50% 11.60% 1.25 0.335 0.436 0.586 1.022 0.251 0.349
Ryan Braun MIL 232 6.00% 17.20% 0.35 0.31 0.349 0.556 0.905 0.245 0.339
Chris Carter HOU 335 13.40% 34.90% 0.38 0.238 0.34 0.483 0.823 0.245 0.32
Michael Cuddyer COL 197 11.70% 17.30% 0.68 0.316 0.396 0.557 0.953 0.241 0.356
Jeff Baker – – – 253 9.50% 23.30% 0.41 0.317 0.383 0.558 0.941 0.241 0.378

Only 11 players produced a .240+ ISO against MLB pitching in 2013, while just 13 players managed that feat in 2014, so we’ll call these players the elite lefty mashers. Twenty-four players in all met the criteria for this first list. Some thoughts and observations on these qualifiers:

• Not too many surprises near the top of the list. Donaldson, Abreu, Upton, Stanton, Trumbo, Cabrera, and Bautista are some of the most feared sluggers in the game, and each player hits from the right side. No reason why they shouldn’t continue to pummel left-handed pitching going forward.

• Pearce continues to appear on these lists. Very impressive numbers last season, but can he sustain that production in a full time role in his age 32 season?

• Davis, Van Slyke, Mayberry, and Baker look to be the true platoon specialists who qualified here. Davis and Van Slyke are fairly competent against right-handed pitching as well, while Mayberry and Baker can’t hit RHPs a lick. These are some players to keep in mind when in the lineup against LHPs on short schedule days in daily formats.

Table #2 features the players who produced an ISO between .200 and .239 against left-handed pitching across the ’13-’14 seasons. Those twenty-six qualifiers can be found here:

Name Team PA BB% K% BB/K AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO BABIP
Nolan Arenado COL 275 7.60% 10.20% 0.75 0.304 0.361 0.543 0.904 0.239 0.3
J.D. Martinez – – – 228 7.00% 26.30% 0.27 0.271 0.32 0.51 0.83 0.238 0.326
Justin Ruggiano – – – 240 7.90% 22.50% 0.35 0.27 0.331 0.507 0.838 0.237 0.307
Alfonso Soriano – – – 302 6.60% 26.80% 0.25 0.279 0.325 0.511 0.835 0.232 0.335
A.J. Pollock ARI 242 6.60% 13.60% 0.48 0.283 0.332 0.511 0.843 0.229 0.304
Marlon Byrd – – – 351 4.80% 23.40% 0.21 0.301 0.339 0.528 0.867 0.227 0.351
Mike Trout LAA 369 17.10% 23.30% 0.73 0.292 0.415 0.518 0.933 0.226 0.36
Joey Votto CIN 305 14.10% 23.30% 0.61 0.261 0.37 0.486 0.857 0.226 0.305
Nelson Cruz – – – 279 12.50% 17.60% 0.71 0.299 0.387 0.523 0.91 0.224 0.326
Evan Longoria TB 382 12.80% 19.10% 0.67 0.287 0.38 0.511 0.89 0.223 0.325
Edwin Encarnacion TOR 241 14.10% 8.30% 1.7 0.267 0.373 0.49 0.864 0.223 0.256
Jayson Werth WAS 275 16.00% 18.20% 0.88 0.339 0.444 0.561 1.005 0.222 0.387
Brian Dozier MIN 355 10.10% 17.20% 0.59 0.29 0.366 0.51 0.876 0.219 0.322
Alex Rios – – – 293 6.50% 14.30% 0.45 0.319 0.36 0.533 0.893 0.215 0.347
Hunter Pence SF 381 8.90% 17.10% 0.52 0.296 0.36 0.507 0.867 0.212 0.327
Mike Napoli BOS 318 16.40% 25.50% 0.64 0.291 0.409 0.502 0.911 0.211 0.378
Jhonny Peralta – – – 278 12.60% 22.70% 0.56 0.311 0.403 0.521 0.924 0.21 0.391
David Ortiz BOS 411 8.30% 16.10% 0.52 0.267 0.331 0.477 0.808 0.21 0.277
Derek Norris OAK 346 12.40% 16.80% 0.74 0.316 0.402 0.525 0.927 0.209 0.352
Adrian Beltre TEX 330 12.40% 12.40% 1 0.337 0.421 0.544 0.965 0.207 0.356
Adam Jones BAL 387 7.20% 19.60% 0.37 0.292 0.351 0.499 0.85 0.207 0.332
Victor Martinez DET 402 7.50% 10.20% 0.73 0.314 0.366 0.52 0.886 0.206 0.316
David Wright NYM 281 13.90% 12.80% 1.08 0.351 0.441 0.556 0.998 0.205 0.383
Yan Gomes CLE 272 5.50% 19.10% 0.29 0.329 0.368 0.534 0.902 0.205 0.372
Chris Iannetta LAA 296 15.50% 18.90% 0.82 0.269 0.385 0.471 0.856 0.202 0.3
Danny Valencia – – – 226 5.80% 13.70% 0.42 0.344 0.381 0.545 0.926 0.201 0.377

• This list is heavily populated by seasoned veterans, which is just a kind way of saying older players. Soriano (who has since retired), Byrd, Cruz, Werth, Rios, Pence, Napoli, etc. have all seen quite a bit of success against southpaws throughout their careers and continue to do so well into their 30s (except for Soriano).

• Arenado and Pollock are a couple of popular fantasy options this season, and for good reason. The favorable hitting environments that their home ball parks provide them with certainly don’t hurt their fantasy prospects.

• How good is Edwin Encarnacion’s plate discipline against lefties? How does a 1.7 BB/K ratio sound? That’s simply absurd for a power hitter in the pitching-dominant environment during the post-PED era.

• Was ’14 an off season or the beginning of the end for Alex Rios? Even when factoring in his poor results from last year, his production over this two year period is still quite impressive.

• Ruggiano, Norris, Iannetta, and Valencia look to be the short schedule matchup plays to exploit from this list when a LHP is on the mound. Don’t forget about them when you’re scouring the player pool looking for a batty call in your RCL this season.

That about does it for this edition. Is Michael Cuddyer or Aramis Ramirez this year’s zombino? Plan on picking up Mayberry or Ruggiano on short schedule days? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 
    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @J-FOH: Aren’t bowlers trying to avoid visiting Splitsville though? It’s like the owners are saying “don’t come here.”

      • J-FOH says:
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        @Big Magoo: I think they are saying its ok to come here, we get you

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @J-FOH: It is in Orlando, so as long as it looks snazzy, the tourists should come…

    • JeF With 1 F says:
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      @J-FOH: Or my house

  1. Grey

    Grey says:
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    One guy that sticks out that I wish I owned on a team already that I don’t: Trumbo

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Grey: Yeah, he has a good chance to hit 30+ bombs if his foot’s completely healthy. Dual eligibility at 1B/OF too.

    • J-FOH says:
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      @Grey: the other white meat! and the other guy I wanted to write a post on. He looked good in Phoenix.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Yeah, in the 2 ABs we saw vs. scrub pitching… His numbers from previous years are nice and he’s not as old as most think

        • Jay

          Jay says:
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          @Grey: only 11 months older than Pedro Alvarez.

        • J-FOH says:
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          @Grey: pitching was meh for sure, but he looked lean and his approach looked a little different from his days with the Angels. A healthy year, which is a big if, actually a big if for almost everyone these days, is worth the gamble this year. I see him as a guy that if you missed out on all the 1B options you take a shot with him and know the dice have been rolled. Id rather gamble on the Trumbomb over Hoser

          • Grey

            Grey says:
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            If Trumbo bounces back, he’s huge… If Hosmer bounces back, he’s decent to okay

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @J-FOH: There are 49 other players in this post if you want to write about any of them, although I’m not sure that Jeff Baker will generate too much traffic…

    • Jay

      Jay says:
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      @Grey: Yeah, no one wanted him in that CBS auction… Evan Gattis though, 28 bucks.

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @Jay: Gattis went at #62 overall in the NFBC league that I’m co-managing with GTS this year. People are crazy high on him.

        • Jay

          Jay says:
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          @Big Magoo: Posey went for $28. Gattis is not special, and I’m not sure why they think he is.

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Jay: Is this a precursor for the Gattis post I’m writing

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          It’s the Mauer syndrome… Catcher eligibility that’s not catching

          • Big Magoo

            Big Magoo says:
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            @Grey: Gattis has plus power at least. Never understood the extreme Mauer love once he was beyond his .320+ days.

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              Yeah, I like Gattis a lot more this year than I liked Mauer last year, but Gattis still feels like a 120-game guy even in the field…

        • J-FOH says:
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          @Big Magoo: NFBC is such its own animal. In standard leagues he is still a value, IMO

          • Big Magoo

            Big Magoo says:
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            @J-FOH: I like him, just not at $28 or #62 overall in a mixed league.

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Crazy

  2. MattTruss

    MattTruss says:
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    Man, I abused Van Slyke whenever possible last year vs LHP. Especially awesome was when the Rockies were rolling with 5 LHPs in their rotation and LA took a trip to mile high.

    Holy crap on E5! That’s pretty incredible, damn near 2 to 1.

    Nice work again Magoo, Razzball writer rookie of the year award so far.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @MattTruss: Thanks, Matt! Yeah, I batty called Van Slyke quite a bit last season too. It’ll be a race to the wire in the ECFBL for some of these guys.

      • MattTruss

        MattTruss says:
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        Yup!

    • I did same thing. Recall streaming SVS and Uribe for those @COL games vs LHP

        • From my RCL team stats:
          SVS – 8 Games, 12/30 (.400), 5 Runs / 3 HR / 9 RBI / 0 SB
          Uribe – 8 Games, 14/32 (.438), 4 Runs / 0 HR / 5 RBI / 0 SB

          Pretty, pretty good.

          • J-FOH says:
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            @Rudy Gamble: In DFS I got scotty at a discount for those games

    • Fuzzy Dunlop says:
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      @MattTruss: yeah, but how many “rookie” writers do they have per year?

  3. Mike says:
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    I have the 11 pick in a 14 team OPS Yahoo league. I like EE for my first pick but he is having problems with his back I draft this coming weekend I hope he plays before the draft.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Mike: I still like EE at that spot despite the back issues. Bautista and Rizzo would make fine picks too, asssuming players like Goldy, Miggy, and Abreu are already off of the board.

  4. Simply Fred

    simply fred says:
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    Very interesting look. Definitely gave me a couple that hadn’t been on my screen. Telling stats!

    (Don’t think Khris merits the lofty company. In last 4 years, covering AA and AAA, highest ISO was .218 with the ‘anomally’ 2013’s .316.)?

    • Simply Fred

      simply fred says:
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      @simply fred: those Khris’ overall ISOs, not vs. lefty. still, was vs. lefty just the one good year?

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @simply fred: It’s a pretty small sample size for Davis. Just 186 PA vs LHP over the 2013-14 seasons. His ’13 results (50 PA, 6 HRs, .444 ISO, 1.009 OPS) help to bump his numbers up into the “elite” range of qualifiers. His plate discipline has been fairly poor thus far, but he hits for good power in a very favorable home park for home runs, so it looks like the power numbers might be here to stay. Thanks, Fred!

        • Simply Fred

          simply fred says:
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          @Big Magoo: Thanks for filling in my blanks.
          You really got me thinking. Spent the day ranking and weighing K% and ISO. Def interesting.

          BTW: Have always been an upside guy. Started looking at players’ downsides. A guy like Chris Carter,
          Steamer: 76R/33HR/84/4SB/.223AVG
          I ignored his two high months. Then prorated the other four to a full season:
          48R/25HR/60RBI/4SB/.195AVG

          I drafted him last year suffering the downside before I dropped him. Not gonna take that risk this year for those maybe/maybe not 33 HR.

          Thanks again!

          • Simply Fred

            simply fred says:
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            @simply fred: same proration for K.Davis:
            56R/17HR/50RBI/4SB/.228AVG

            again, that is four lowest months prorated for a full season…

          • Big Magoo

            Big Magoo says:
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            @simply fred: No problem. I usually put some type of restriction on K% or K/BB ratio when doing these types of searches, but for this exercise I wanted to place added emphasis on power and just let the results play out. Players like Davis and Carter can be prone to prolonged slumps from time to time, but when they get hot, look out (Jul/Aug for Carter last season). Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

            • Simply Fred

              simply fred says:
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              @Big Magoo: Won’t bug you anymore this post. This pretty eerie though:

              I am watching Mets game. Mayberry subs in against lefty. Announcer touts his strength against lefties.

              BOOOOOM!

              • Big Magoo

                Big Magoo says:
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                @simply fred: Haha, timely! And you’re not bugging me in the least. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t love to talk baseball and stats.

                • Simply Fred

                  simply fred says:
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                  @Big Magoo: Van Slyke …ditto! Impactful insight!!!!! Having some fun now!

                  • Big Magoo

                    Big Magoo says:
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                    @simply fred: I saw that. Mayberry and Van Slyke!

  5. Ante GALIC says:
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    Big Magoo!

    Fantastic write-up. I was thinking fr the title that it was about LH batters who mash, then, of course, read the article and finally concluded that would prolly be too obvious of an article….lefties who mash RHP i.e., almost everyone worth a grain of salt.

    Question: Is it so obvious that all LH batters mash RHP? Is there a list of futility of RH hitters who fail vs LHP?

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Ante GALIC says:
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      @Ante GALIC: just saw my question meant the reverse. Is there a list of futility of LH vs RHP? They’d prolly all be out of a job.

      Cheers,
      Ante

      • Big Magoo

        Big Magoo says:
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        @Ante GALIC: Thanks, Ante! Sure, you could just reverse the search criteria to discover which hitters struggled against LHP and RHP.

        The futility award for a RHB against LHP over the last two seasons goes to… Jayson Nix with a .043 ISO. Honorable mention to B.J. (Melvin) Upton who brings up the rear with a .510 OPS.

        For a LHB versus RHP, those players would be John Baker for ISO (.027!) and Leury Garcia for OPS (.418).

        That list might be a good idea for potential hitters/lineups to exploit for pitchers. Good thinking!

  6. SheriffMcRawDawg says:
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    Magoo!

    Which 10 would you keep in a 10-team roto keep-forever?

    Salvador Perez
    Ramos
    Napoli
    Pedroia
    Arenado
    Baez
    Bogaerts
    Encarnacion
    Avisail
    Alex Gordon
    Adam Jones
    Matt Kemp
    Marte
    Singleton
    Gallo
    Machado
    Tulowitzki

    Fister
    Gausman
    Hamels
    Kenley
    Porcello
    Scherzer
    Taijuan Walker
    Wheeler
    Heaney
    Latos

    thanks!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @SheriffMcRawDawg: Arenado, Bogaerts, Encarnacion, Jones, Marte, Machado, Tulo, Hamels, and Scherzer are the top 9 options for me.

      Could go a lot of different ways with the final keeper. If you’re looking for long-term upside offensively, Baez or Gallo could be options. If you want to win now, Kemp or Pedroia could work. If your format rewards pitching, Wheeler provides the best mix of short and long term value.

      Hope this helps!

      • SheriffMcRawDawg says:
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        @Big Magoo: thanks Magoo! I may go with Baez in the last spot and throw Kemp back. Grey likes Wheeler too but I think his latest elbow thing/MRI has me a little worried.

        Hamels would be a definite for you though?

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @SheriffMcRawDawg: No problem. Sounds good to me. I like Kemp, but his arthritic hips are a concern in a keep-forever league. Agreed on Wheeler too. I think Hamels has 2-3 high-end seasons left in him. Think he’s a good option as a #2 SP, especially if you’re keeping 8 bats. Good luck!

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