Welcome to Splitsville: Lefties

Welcome to Splitsville.  Here is Splitsville I analyze players through a particular lens, or split, and highlight those who excel.  I looked first at those excelling in each split so far this year, but then I compared it with their career performance to see if it is something that can be relied upon with any degree of certainty going forward or might just be statistical noise through two and a half months.

With the proliferation of daily games like FanGraphs The Game, Daily Joust, FanDuel, PickSix and many others, knowing which players excel in a particular split can help you decide who to pick for a single game.  It is incredibly hard to pick who will excel in a one day sample and even leaning on a favorable split won’t guarantee results, but it can enhance your odds.

Our first split to examine is “vs. lefties”.  Some guys just rake against southpaws.  They usually aren’t southpaws themselves as the lefty-lefty matchup is one of the tougher ones for hitters which aided the rise of the LOOGYs.  Here are 16 guys who are more or less LOOGY-proof:

Andrew McCutchen

McCutchen is on another level across the board this year with an .809 OPS against righties which is up a tick from his career .792 OPS mark against them.  Meanwhile, he is obliterating lefties this year as his 1.285 OPS against them is baseball’s best among those with 50+ PA facing left-handers.

David Wright

Wright has been unique this year in that he has actually been better against right handers (1.063 OPS) than lefties (.986 OPS), but he is still excelling against them so he makes the list plus he has been significantly better against them for his career.  As a superstar, he has excelled regardless of which hand the pitch is coming from (.855 career v. RHP), but his 1.021 OPS is akin to him being Jose Bautista (1.025 OPS in 1338 PA) circa 2010-2011 against southpaws.

Shane Victorino

Victorino has a .641 OPS against righties this year and a .742 for his career.  The Flyin’ Hawaiian is a slap-hitting useful, but unspectacular outfielder against righties, but becomes Mike Napoli with more speed against lefties.  Napoli has an .888 OPS in 1153 PA since 2010.

Billy Butler

Butler has always handled lefties, but this year’s power surge against them has put him on pace to push the 30-home run barrier for the first time in his career.  He was popping a home run every 24 at-bats coming into this season, but has upped that mark to every 14 at-bats with 4 in 57 AB so far.  Butler still hits pretty well against righties with a .288 average, but his slugging dips 100 points to .434 meanwhile he actually has more walks (99) than strikeouts (93) vs. LHP.

Derek Jeter

Unsurprisingly, this surefire first ballot Hall of Famer is doing well across the board.  He has always held an edge against lefties, but this year he has been on another level and it is propping up his entire stat line.  This year he has just a .696 OPS against righties.  He is still hitting .280 against them, but no power (.360 SLG).  He has the same amount of home runs against lefties (3) in 130 fewer plate appearances.

Kevin Youkilis

Youk has been an abomination on the whole this year, but he is still popping lefties to the tune of a solid .853 OPS (compared to his putrid .586 mark against right-handers).  He has held an advantage against lefties, but it was usually accompanied with an excellent mark against righties, too (career .852 OPS).  His career mark against lefties is essentially equal to 2010-2011 Troy Tulowitzki (.931 OPS in 1135 PA).

Paul Goldschmidt

Goldschmidt doesn’t exactly have a rich career history having played all of 101 games in his career, but he does seem to feast on lefties in his limited sample.  His minor league record showed a similar domination of lefties suggesting we will continue to see this trend from him in the majors (1.390 OPS v. LHP; .934 vs. RHP in 131 and 326 PA, respectively).

Jose Altuve

Like Goldschmidt, Altuve has virtually a nothing sample of games compared to most of the guys on this list with just 119 played.  He is but a relatively hollow batting average against same-handed pitchers, but bashes the hell out of lefties with a near-.400 average this year.  This was present in his minor league career as he posted a .446 AVG and 1.165 OPS in 92 PA.

A.J. Ellis

Ellis is your prototypical late-blooming catcher as his 51 games this year are already a career-high.  He has always been an on-base machine with capable batting average and no real power before this year’s surge.  Though his career samples aren’t huge, he shows a pretty distinct edge when facing southpaws, especially for power.

Danny Espinosa

Espinosa has been so bad against right-handers both this year (.589 OPS) and during his career really (.676 OPS) that you could make a case that he should be a platoon player.  The switch-hitter’s split has been as stark as ever this year to the point where fantasy managers should definitely be platooning him where applicable.

Scott Hairston

Speaking of platoons, Hairston is deployed that way by the Mets with great success.  He has just 49 plate appearances against righties posting a paltry .600 OPS.  I am surprised it took this long for him to become a platoon player with a career .225/.287/.408 line against righties in 1328 plate appearances.

Trevor Plouffe

Plouffe currently doesn’t care which hand you throw with, he is going to hit a home run regardless.  But for his career, he has a distinct advantage against lefties in the form of a 230-point split in OPS.  In a lot of leagues, specifically any mixed league format, he was a waiver wire pick (and might still be out there in a few leagues) so the roster should be constructed in such a way that he can be platooned once this hot streak tamps down.

Gaby Sanchez

Sanchez’s performance this year has been one steeped in relativity.  A .698 OPS inspires exactly nobody, but compared to his .449 mark against righties, it is clear he fares better against lefties.  And his career record, filled with much more appealing data, bears that out as well with  a 177-point edge.

Jonny Gomes

Gomes notoriously feasts on lefties and the split seemed to be getting more distinct by the year before this year’s surge against righties (.752 OPS).  His career mark is probably still more instructive.  Same goes for teammate who would be a perfect platoon partner, though he too is enjoying an unexpected surge against same-handed opposition.

Mark Reynolds

Reynolds hits for average against no one and hits for power against anyone, but he is exceptional at getting on base and hitting for power against lefties specifically.  He didn’t hit his first 2012 HR until May 4th so he only have 1 against lefties and 5 overall, but four doubles in his 12 hits vs. LHP gives him that gaudy SLG so far this year.

Cody Ross

Ross was hitting everyone before he went on the disabled list, and he has always hit like an All-Star against lefties, but this year he was at a superstar clip against them buoyed by his .625 SLG in the short sample.  The Green Monster probably aided his work against righties so you might not have to worry about sitting in those situations once he returns.  Either way, he has been out for nearly a month so he probably appears on more than a few waiver wires.


One Comment to “Welcome to Splitsville: Lefties”

  1. Do you know the all time record for batting average vs left handed pitching in a single season?

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