Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another Look at 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. One 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. Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland have both continued to talk about the need for another left-handed hitter during the season although they did mention that another good hitter could help regardless of which side of the plate he bats.


Through the first 88 games, they were 19-7 against left-handed pitchers and 40-22 against right-handed pitchers so they seem to have no trouble winning against any kind of pitcher. Surprisingly, they are actually hitting better against righties (.282/.336/.475) than they are against southpaws (.252/.312/.411). So, the lack of left-handed hitters has not been a problem so far.


The table below shows how the Tigers have fared individually against lefties and righties. As expected, Granderson (.696 OPS vs. LHP and .874 OPS vs, RHP) and Carlos Guillen (.601,.966) are both doing much better against right-handers than left-handers. More of a surprise is that a few of their right-handed batters are also doing much better against RHP: Magglio Ordonez (.746,.918), Marcus Thames (.874,1.074) and Craig Monroe (.623, .766). The only batter doing significantly better versus left-handers is Ivan Rodriguez (.917,.731).


So, if anything, it appears they need to hit left-handers better in the second half of the season. It would still be nice to add a left-handed bat to face certain teams but it appears as if this may not be as crucial as some of us think. It looks to me like what they really need is another good hitter even if he’s right-handed.



Table: Tiger Batters Versus LHP and RHP Pitchers through July 9, 2006



Versus LHP

Versus RHP

Player

AB

OPS

AB

OPS

Granderson

87

.696

244

.874

Polanco

84

.627

235

.698

Rodriguez

88

.917

214

.731

Ordonez

86

.746

235

.918

Guillen

75

.601

227

.966

Thames

68

.874

134

1.074

Shelton

75

.877

226

.849

Monroe

62

.623

207

.766

Inge

72

.741

222

.744

1 comment:

  1. I knew Thames was hitting righties better than expected but I didn't know others were as well. In the long run the Tigers still need another left-handed bat, but I'm not sure it's a good idea to give up part of the core of the team to get one in a trade before the deadline given these stats. Thanks for doing the homework Lee.

    ReplyDelete

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