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.