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No one should ever bat right-handed

Posted by John Reed on

My oldest son Dan and I were discussing left-handed batting today at lunch. I say no one should ever bat right-handed, including switch hitters. I think there should be no “right”-handed batters box painted on the field. Batting right handed should be outlawed. It’s like one sprinter out of six lining up for the hundred-meter dash with his back to the finish line.

Youth Baseball Coaching, 3rd edition book

Closer to all the bases

The left handed batters box is closer to first, second, and third bases as well as home plate. Duh. If you are going to get in a race to first, why would you ever want to start 18 inches farther away if you did not have to? There is only one word for it: stupid.

Facing the wrong base

When you finish your swing to put a ball into play, your breast bone is facing third base if you bat right handed and facing first base—the one you are running to—if you bat left-handed. Stupid.

Crappy drag bunts

There is a good tactic known as a drag bunt. It can be done by right-handed batters, but they have to wait until AFTER the bunt to start running. Left-handed batters can start running toward first BEFORE they make the bunt.

See the release point of most pitchers better

Left-handed can see the pitcher’s release point better most of the time because about 90% of amateur pitchers are right-handed and about 67% of pro pitchers are right-handed. That is one of the reasons batters do better against opposite-handed pitchers. (The other two reasons are the curve ball and slider are harder to hit when thrown by a same-handed pitcher. Not all pitchers can throw those pitches for strikes.)

Nothing but dirt

Right-handed batters need to avoid stepping on home plate. There is nothing but dirt between the left-handed batters and first base.

Catchers prefer right-handed batters

When there is a runner on first, almost all catchers would prefer a right-handed batter because almost all catchers throw right-handed (don’t ask me why) and no matter which hand they throw with, they can see the runner at first better if there is no batter in the left-handed batters box. With a right-handed batter they can throw to second better because they have to go around a left-handed batter to throw to second.

wOBA

The best statistic for measuring batter performance is wOBA (weighted On Base Average). 15 of the top wOBA MLB players of 2016 bat right handed; 10, left-handed. Does that prove that right is better? No. About 90% of people are right handed; 10% left-handed. So the number of right-handed batters in the top 25 wOBA ought to be 90% x 25 = 22.5 and 10% x 25 = 2.5.

Right-handed batters need more athletic ability than left-handed batters to achieve the same results

Why is the percentage of left-handed batters in the top 25 wOBA 10 ÷ 25 = 40% instead of 10%? Because it’s easier to get into the top 25 if you are left=handed. It takes more athletic ability to get into the top 25 if you are right handed because you need to overcome all the obstacles listed above.

The wOBA of the batters in the top 25 range from .419 (Ortiz) to .370 (Cano). How much would the wOBAs of the right-handed batters have to go up to push seven of the ten left-handers off the bottom of the list? About .008. That is not a precise calculation, but it is the basic idea. Among other results, if right-handed Trout batted left-handed, his wOBA would go from .418 to .426 making him number one instead of left-handed Ortiz.

Why such stupidity still after Moneyball?

So how has the colossal stupidity of batting right-handed lasted so long? Why is it still happening in the Moneyball, Bill James, SABRmetrics era?

The founding moron

Because some moron in the 1800s said that batting from the batter’s box to the left of the plate was “right”-handed batting. There is no such thing as one-handed batting. Batters, like wood choppers, hammer throwers, and hockey players, use both hands.

It’s a counter-clockwise board game

Handedness matters in baseball, because it is almost the only sport where the playing field is laid out like a board game—a board game with counter-clockwise flow for offensive players. That being the case, why would anyone ever want to start an offensive play on the clockwise side when they have a choice of either side?

Right-handed batting will become obsolete

Stupid. I predict that in our lifetimes, right-handed batting will disappear.


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