Old school baseball fans recently have had to throw away ideas that had been carved in stone over many years of baseball watching, but blasted to bits by technological dynamite in this new nerd world order. Stealing bases? Not an efficient way of scoring runs. Bunting? Fuggeddaboutit. Placing extra fielders on one side of the field daring the opponent to hit against their trends? Now you are talking. There are tons of others….discuss among your selves.
But one trend I am struggling to understand relative to the 2018 Astros strikes to the core of my baseball self. Lefties hit righties better than lefties, and righties hit lefties better than righties. Period. End of story. Forever, this has been the basis for lineup decisions, for substitutions and for pinch-hitting choices. Again, end of story.
But the 2018 Astros are writing their own version of this story. If you drop out the sole switch hitter, Marwin Gonzalez and look at the other thirteen Astro hitters who have gotten significant ABs this season, nine of them are putting up better numbers against those pitchers, who are throwing from their side, including all four lefties.
A quick look at the various combinations (all stats through 5-June)…..
Lefties hitting better against lefties
- Brian McCann – Against RHP – .195 BA/.268 OBP/.601 OPS Against LHP – .296 BA/.441 OBP/ .849 OPS
- Josh Reddick – Against RHP – .213 BA/.336 OBP/.709 OPS Against LHP – .263 BA/.317 OBP/ .817 OPS
- Derek Fisher – Against RHP – .143 BA/.194 OBP/.543 OPS Against LHP – .364 BA/.357 OBP/ 1.175 OPS
- Tony Kemp – Against RHP – .225 BA/.304 OBP/.654 OPS Against LHP – .500 BA/.667 OBP/ 1.167 OPS
Righties hitting better against righties
- Jose Altuve – Against RHP – .357 BA/.405 OBP/.902 OPS Against LHP – .265 BA/.301 OBP/ .640 OPS
- Alex Bregman – Against RHP – .278 BA/.391 OBP/.829 OPS Against LHP – .215 BA/.329 OBP/ .698 OPS
- Evan Gattis – Against RHP – .230 BA/.310 OBP/.730 OPS Against LHP – .200 BA/.246 OBP/ .663 OPS
- J.D. Davis – Against RHP – .212 BA/.316 OBP/.619 OPS Against LHP – .167 BA/.333 OBP/ .500 OPS
- Jake Marisnick – Against RHP – .172 BA/.197 OBP/.494 OPS Against LHP – .146 BA/.163 OBP/ .455 OPS
Hitters hitting as expected
- George Springer – Against RHP – .272 BA/.347 OBP/.798 OPS Against LHP – .333 BA/.385 OBP/ 1.022 OPS
- Yuli Gurriel – Against RHP – .281 BA/.307 OBP/.666 OPS Against LHP – .310 BA/.333 OBP/ .747 OPS
- Carlos Correa – Against RHP – .250 BA/.321 OBP/.790 OPS Against LHP – .302 BA/.415 OBP/ .868 OPS
- Max Stassi – Against RHP – .177 BA/.271 OBP/.675 OPS Against LHP – .400 BA/.442 OBP/ 1.067 OPS
Lonely switch hitting outlier
- Marwin Gonzalez – Against RHP – .214 BA/.302 OBP/.646 OPS Against LHP – .276 BA/.306 OBP/ .703 OPS
Comments and Thoughts
- OK, some of this is based on very small samples (like Fisher and Kemp batting against lefties) – still it is interesting even if those guys end up on the other side
- It is hard to call Marisnick’s numbers “better” against righties…
- Carlos Correa has better numbers against lefties, but little power as he has hit only 1 HR in 50 ABs against lefties
- Marwin G has a reputation for being a better left-handed hitter, but that is not the case this season and his poor hitting against righties in the majority of his ABs this season have dragged his overall numbers down far below 2017
- If you think the Astros are facing more lefties than ever, well you would be right to this point in the season. Last year 25% of their ABs were against lefties, while this season that number is up to 29% of their ABs (not counting Wednesday night against Wade Leblanc and Thursday night against Cole Hamels)
- If you think the Astros hit particularly poorly against lefties, well you would be wrong. They are 2nd in runs scored (90), and BA (.272), and 4th in OBP (.336) and OPS (.777) in the AL against lefties for the season.
- The Astros are down a bit against righties this season as they were number one in all of baseball in most categories in 2017 against RHPs. This season in the AL, they are 4th in runs scored (212), 8th in BA (.249), 5th in OBP (.323) and 7th in OPS (.730). This would be a big reason for their very inconsistent offense on the season as in 70% of the games they are pretty mediocre.
So, any thoughts from your side? Did a lot of the hitters concentrate on improving one side of their game against those with the same hand and fell on the other side? Is it too early to be a trend? Are they going the other way against the same-handed pitchers while over-trying to jerk balls against the pitchers they should be dominating? Will this fix itself during the season?