Thursday, May 04, 2006

Line-up Balance

There was a lot of talk this past off-season about the need for more left-handed bats in the Tiger line-up. Last year, the Tigers played .500 ball (21-21) against left-handed pitchers but went only 50-70 versus right-handers. The reason for this was that they batted .280/.327/.453 against LHP and only .269/.320/.420 versus RHP. This is not surprising for a line-up that was so heavily right-handed. With switch hitters Dmitri Young and Carlos Guillen missing significant time with injuries, they went much of the season without any regular left-handed bats.


It was reported that they made an effort to acquire a left-handed bat during the off-season with no luck. So it was hoped that the addition of Curtis Granderson and better health for Guillen and Young would give them the needed line-up balance this year. Young went down almost immediately with a hamstring injury leaving Guillen and Granderson as the only lefty threats. Through the first 29 games, they were 5-0 against left-handed pitchers and 14-10 against right-handed pitchers. However, they were batting only .236/.297/.403 in 191 at bats against southpaws and their perfect record has been primarily a result of their own good pitching. They have actually been hitting right-handers quite well batting .293/.348/.505. So, the line-up imbalance has not been a big problem so far.



The table below shows how the Tigers have fared individually against lefties and righties. There have not been enough at bats to make this chart really meaningful yet but it does show that most of the team has not had much trouble against LHP to this point. The only regulars with an OPS under .800 were Placido Polanco (.678) and Ivan Rodriguez (.791). It also reveals that a few right-handed hitters that generally have trouble with RHP have been hitting them very well so far: Craig Monroe (.875), Brandon Inge (.870) and Marcus Thames (1.384).


I’ll check this again in a few weeks when there are more at bats but so far the lack of left-handed bats has not hurt them.


Table: Tiger Batters Versus LHP and RHP Pitchers through May 3, 2006



Versus LHP

Versus RHP

Player

AB

OPS

AB

OPS

Granderson

22

.788

81

.803

Polanco

18

.367

86

.678

Rodriguez

21

.856

74

.791

Ordonez

22

.895

81

.851

Guillen

21

.701

78

.996

Shelton

19

1.093

78

1.143

Monroe

18

.433

84

.875

Inge

17

.958

64

.870

Thames

16

.485

25

1.384

Gomez

1

.000

31

.563

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