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:
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):
|Mark Trumbo||– – –||266||8.60%||24.80%||0.35||0.26||0.327||0.554||0.881||0.293||0.289|
|Scott Van Slyke||LAD||206||13.60%||24.30%||0.56||0.285||0.388||0.552||0.941||0.267||0.333|
|John Mayberry||– – –||190||10.00%||14.20%||0.7||0.241||0.316||0.506||0.822||0.265||0.231|
|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:
|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|
|Marlon Byrd||– – –||351||4.80%||23.40%||0.21||0.301||0.339||0.528||0.867||0.227||0.351|
|Nelson Cruz||– – –||279||12.50%||17.60%||0.71||0.299||0.387||0.523||0.91||0.224||0.326|
|Alex Rios||– – –||293||6.50%||14.30%||0.45||0.319||0.36||0.533||0.893||0.215||0.347|
|Jhonny Peralta||– – –||278||12.60%||22.70%||0.56||0.311||0.403||0.521||0.924||0.21||0.391|
|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.