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Entries in Colorado Rockies (29)


Which teams hit well against righties/lefties? Which don't?

There were two variables I was looking for in putting this chart together:

1 - Hitting success

2 - Hitting balance

The answer appears quickly in this chart in the upper right quadrant:

1 - The Rockies are hitting .286 against righties and .285 against lefties.

2 - The Tigers are hitting .286 against righties and .283 against lefties.

  • The Braves have better balance than productivity hitting .244 against righties and .248 against lefties.
  • The Mariners hitting is also mediocre and balanced hitting .242 against righties and .238 against lefties.
  • But the Cubs, whose hitting is borderline miserable has the second closest balance hitting .238 against righties and .239 against lefties.
  • It's the Mets, with their miserable hitting that is the most balanced hitting .2434 against righties and .234 against lefties.

Best and worst?

  • The Dodgers are eating up lefties hitting .305 but struggling against righties hitting .232.
  • The White Sox are the worst hitting team against righties struggling at .224.

There are five teams hitting under .220 against lefties

  • Marlins - .219
  • Pirates - .219
  • Diamondbacks - .219
  • Phillies - .207
  • And the most amazing stat is that the Washington Nationals are hitting .203 against lefties (and only .240 against righties).


Jamie Moyer and the Fat Part of the Plate

Jamie Moyer is 49 years old, coming off Tommy John surgery and is trying to make a team that plays its home games nearly a mile above sea level. As far as odds go, the lefty seemingly has as good a chance of succeeding as a Kardashian has at winning a MacArthur genius award. Yet Moyer's quest to become the oldest player to ever win a MLB game did at least get off to a good start yesterday: he tossed two scoreless innings against the Giants, whiffing one.

Despite possessing a fastball that opponents getting beaned might mistake for a gentle breeze, Moyer managed to be a nearly league-average starter in his mid-to-late forties. He had a 97 ERA+ from 2008-10, though that figure did dip each year (118 ERA+ in '08, 85 in '09, 84 in '10). The former Cub, Ranger, Cardinal, Oriole, Red Sock, Mariner and Phillie avoided slaughter with his beer-league softball velocity by avoiding the fat part of the plate. Check out his pitch location since 2008, compared to the league average for lefty starters:

Moyer's pitch location, 2008-10 

Average pitch location for lefty starters, 2008-present

Moyer avoids the center of the strike zone like few others. In fact, he's second only to another extreme soft-tosser when it comes to the lowest percentage of pitches thrown down the horizontal middle of the zone:

Lowest percentage of pitches thrown down horizontal middle of plate, 2008-present

PitcherPct. Of Pitches Thrown Down Middle
Livan Hernandez 15.6%
Jamie Moyer 18.3%
Shaun Marcum 19.8%
Sidney Ponson 20.3%
Mike Mussina 20.3%
Carl Pavano 20.3%
Andy Pettitte 20.3%
Derek Lowe 20.4%
Brian Moehler 20.4%
David Huff 20.4%
MLB Avg. for SP 24.6%


It shouldn't come as any surprise that when Moyer does miss down the middle with his BP velocity, he gets thrashed: opponents bopped him for a .544 slugging percentage on middle pitches from 2008-10. Coors is hardly the easiest place for Moyer to one-up Phil Niekro and Jack Quinn old dude win column, but maybe he has a chance if he can keep avoiding hitters' wheelhouse.


Seth Smith's Platoon Splits

The Oakland A's have spent most of the offseason selling off young, cost-controlled pitchers like Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey for a cadre of top prospects whom they hope can make the club competitive in a brand new ball park in San Jose a few years down the road. But the A's sent a pair of arms made obsolete by the addition of Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock, Tom Milone and others to Colorado yesterday, picking up a present-day upgrade for the outfield in Seth Smith for Josh Outman and Guillermo Moscoso.

Well, Smith is an upgrade when the 73 percent of the pitching population that tosses from the right side is on the mound, anyway. The lefty batter has been platooned judiciously during his big league career, with slightly over 83 percent of his career plate appearances coming against righty pitching. There's good reason for that. While he smacks around right-handers (his batting line against them is about 25 percent better than the league average, even accounting for Coors), he has been helpless versus lefties:

Vs Left .202 .267 .317 20.5% 7.8% 244
Vs Right .288 .362 .515 16.7% 10.3% 1203


While some of Smith's extreme platoon split is likely small sample size noise, righty and lefty pitchers certainly do approach him differently. Right-handers pitch him cautiously, locating just 42 percent of their pitches within the strike zone against Smith (the average for righty pitchers against lefty hitters is about 46 percent). Most of what Smith gets from righties is tossed off the outer third of the plate:

Right-handed pitchers' location to Smith, 2008-2011

Lefties don't tiptoe around the zone as much, throwing 49 percent of their pitches in the zone versus Smith (right around the average for LHP against LHBs):

Left-handed pitchers' location to Smith, 2008-2011

Smith's power numbers might suggest that he hits many more fly balls against right-handers than lefties, but that's not the case. He actually has a higher fly ball rate versus southpaws (47 percent) than against righties (41 percent). It's just that his flies don't have the same oomph versus lefties: Smith's average fly ball distance when a righty is on the bump is 333 feet, compared to 315 feet against left-handers.

Smith figures to platoon with some combination of righty-hitting Colin Cowgill (picked up from the Diamondbacks in the Cahill swap) and Michael Taylor. Smith's pickup seems to signal a particular lack of confidence in Taylor. The former Phillie prospect, traded to the Blue Jays in the Roy Halladay deal and quickly sent to Oakland for Brett Wallace, once ranked as one of Baseball America's top 30 prospects but has failed to hit for power despite standing 6-foot-5, 255 pounds. The 26-year-old has slugged just .428 in over 1,000 career Triple-A plate appearances, while the average in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League has been between around .440 in recent seasons.

Smith can do the heavy lifting against righties, but the A's need either Cowgill or Taylor to produce against lefties. Asking Smith to play every day doesn't look like it would be in his or the team's best interests for 2012 and beyond.