The Hand of the Hurler

Is the Lefty One Out Guy really needed?

Does a game go by without you hearing the analyst and play-by-play commentators talking about something to do with a bullpen and a southpaw pitcher?  It's tough.  It's a baseball standard.  What if a team has six right-handers in the pen and a left-handed batter comes up?  You know the thought is going through someone's head, and soon enough a voice comes out of the speakers:  Gotta have a lefty in that pen somewhere...

What's more important: having that southpaw who can come in and get that one pesky left-handed hitter out, or having an effective pitcher?  It's a misconception based on a general truth.  Generally, lefties retire lefties more consistently than right-handed pitchers.  Righties retire righties more consistently than lefties.

Oddly enough, this isn't true across the board.  Looking at the list below, you have four of the Twins' top relievers from last season and three other southpaws:  John Halama, Neal Cotts and Kent Mercker.

                           AB     K     BAA     OBP     SLG    OPS
Joe Nathan    VsL  120    49    .158     .248     .283   .532
                    VsR 131    45    .206     .246     .290   .536

Juan Rincon   VsL  119   38    .218     .311     .269    .580
                    VsR  162   46    .228     .300    .278    .578

J.C. Romero   VsL  101   28   .198     .308     .267    .575
                    VsR  112   20   .268     .415     .446    .862

Jesse Crain     VsL  110  10   .209     .307     .300    .607
                     VsR  169  15   .225     .295     .308    .602

John Halama   VsL   82   18   .329     .404     .476    .880
                     VsR 188   19   .277     .322     .473    .785

Neal Cotts      VsL  102   33   .206     .284    .275     .559
                     VsR 110   25  .155      .288    .209     .497

Kent Mercker  VsL  102  26   .225      .286    .353    .693
                     VsR  135  19   .304     .362    .548     .911

If a right-handed hitter came up in 2005, would you rather have Neal Cotts on the mound or Juan Rincon?  If a left-handed hitter, would you bring in Kent Mercker or Joe Nathan?

When you break it down,  you need to assess each sitation depending on which players are involved.  How does the pitcher do against players from a certain side of the batters box?  If you're going to take it that far, you need to find out how the batter does against the hand of the hurler.

More than any other sport, baseball has grown into a game of numbers.  How you look at these numbers is becoming a greater and greater part of the game, and, rightfully so, are outdating old generalities.  If you think this change in the makeup of baseball is ruining the game, no analyst(s) specifically in mind, then perhaps the game has passed you by.  It's a different game, but it's still baseball...and it's still beautiful.  Now there are more clues as to how to be successful, and rubes like me are going to be making suggestions every step of the way.

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