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  • Historical Platoon Splits Discussion

    Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
    Speaking of Arod. Anybody notice that he had 47 dingers against righties last year and 7 against lefties?
    Speaking of platoon splits and all time greats, I thought we could further this discussion and look at the outliers in particular. I'd like to hear what people know and have learned about historical players and what influenced their platoon performance.

    The breakdown is as thus (list is as of 1995, when the book was published):
    Code:
    Name	       Total  Vs. RHP  Vs. LHP   %*
    Babe Ruth	714	495	219	30.7
    Reggie Jackson	563	384	179	31.8
    Willie McCovey	521	421	100	19.2
    Ted Williams	521	457	64	12.3
    Eddie Mathews	512	418	94	18.4
    Mel Ott	        511	400	111	21.7
    Lou Gehrig	493	350	143	29.0
    Stan Musial	475	320	155	32.6
    Willie Stargell	475	372	103	21.7
    Carl Yastrzemski452	374	78	17.3
    Billy Williams	426	325	101	23.7
    Darrell Evans	414	317	97	23.4
    Duke Snider	407	374	33	8.1
    Graig Nettles	390	281	109	27.9
    Norm Cash	377	316	61	16.2
    Johnny Mize	359	274	85	23.7
    Yogi Berra	358	273	85	23.7
    Dave Parker	339	237	102	30.1
    Boog Powell	339	270	69	20.4
    George Brett	317	229	88	27.8
    Fred Lynn	306	246	60	19.6
    Harold Baines 	301	243	58	19.3
    Chuck Klein	300	241	59	19.7
    
    * - Percentage of total home runs hit against LHP.
    Further discussion is in order on Williams, for whom we now have verified splits for 1956-60:

    Against RHP: .339 .474 .644 (1 Hr every 12.7 AB's)
    Against LHP: .293 .425 .454 (1 Hr every 27 AB's)

    Also, check out Duke Snider's futility (1954, 1956-64)

    Why is it that even after Snider left Ebbets, and the awesome RH loaded Dodger lineup of the 50's was dismantled, did he continue to sit against lefties? Only 7% of Snider's PA in the years in question were against LH pitching, while 25% of pitching in the NL was left handed. I'm not sure what % of the Dodgers' PA were against LHP during those years.

    I guess this is a chicken and egg question- was he much less of a hitter against lefties to begin with, or was he eventually futile against lefties because he never faced them?

    If it turns out that his second half career numbers are about the same as his first half, is this a major mark against him?

    What about if Ted's career slugging is 200 points lower, etc. Will it change people's perceptions of his echelon amongst the all time greatest hitters?

  • #2
    Possibly the first thing we need for this discussion is a baseline...I'm sure someone out there like astrofan or brett can provide us the AVERAGE platoon splits.

    I'm inclined to think Snider just wasn't too good vs. LHers. I'm sure a lot of managers would have tried to maneuver their rotation so as to not send a lefty against the Dodgers with that lineup, but at about 25% splits, and Snider sitting more than usual for a star (8 or so games on average, and without the reputation of being a "nagging injury" player....Clemente had that rep, and he was in the same neighborhood). Could it be those were just healthy scratches when Warren Spahn was in town?

    Comment


    • #3
      --It is my understanding that teams did not use LH starting pitchers vs the Dodgers at Ebbetts if they could possibly avoid it. Rotations were not as firmly established then and teams were much more inclined to go with favored matchups rather than who was next in line. Spahn seldom pitched in Ebbetts. LH hitters generaly don't do as well vs LH pitchers and the infrequency with witch he saw them no doubt made things even worse for Snider.
      --The same is true of Fenway. Teams traditionally tried to avoid using LH starters there, driving down the percentage of LHP that Boston LH hitters faced and subsequently making them less effective vs the LHP they did see. It is no coincidence that Teddy and Yaz have two of the lowest percents vs LHP from the above list.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have been interested by lefty righty breakdowns more of pitchers recently. Lets start by taking 2 average pitchers.

        First for a righty I picked Milt Wilcox who pitched over 2000 innings, but with a 97 ERA+.

        For his career he faced almost the same number of righties as lefties: 4361 to 4243 or about 50.7 to 49.3.

        Then for a lefty I picked Floyd Bannister who pitched over 2000 with a 102 ERA+.

        To my bewilderment, Bannister faced 81.8% RIGHTY hitters in his career. I figured that Bannister was a pretty good left handed power pitcher at his best, so I looked around some more.

        Next I looked at Dennis Rasmussen who had about 1400 innings with a 94 ERA+ and was not really a power pitcher. He too faced a huge number of righties: 83.0%


        Picked another: Bob Knepper who was pretty good for a time, but average over his career. Once again around 83% righties faced.

        So the first thing I realized is that teams must really try to use all of their right handed batters against lefty pitchers, even average ones, while right handed pitchers faced a pretty consistent near 50% split. Even Pedro has faced 46% right handed hitters in his career.

        This is a big deal. For one, it means that left handed starting pitchers do not face the general population of major league hitters.

        By rough count about 70% of starting pitchers are righty and 30% are lefty.

        Comment


        • #5
          --I wouldn't have guessed the proprotions were so extreme, but I would have expected them to be disproportionate. LH hitters generally have much larger platoon splits than RH hitters. Mostly I would assume because they have so many fewer opportunities to work against same handed pitchers as they are coming up (the 70/30 RH/LH split for pitchers in the majors is more like 90/10 at lower levels). A LH hitter can have a good career with bad platoon splits. A RH hitter who can't hit RH pitchers probably won't have much of one.

          Comment


          • #6
            The platoon differential is almost universal, although the size of the difference varies from hitter to hitter. It could be argued that the typically small sample sizes of LHB-LHP matchups result in some misleading data, although for players with long careers this is less of an issue. And player use patterns can either mask or exaggerate platoon stats.

            I doubt Ted Wiliams faced many lefties in Fenway, opposing managers would use righthanders there due to the Green Monster and the fact that the Red Sox almost always had plenty of righthanded power. The very low career HR totals vs. lefties probably indicates far fewer ABs against them, not a real problem hitting them. When Ted faced a lefty it was more likely in a road game. The Retrosheet data only covers the very end of his career, and Williams did OK against lefties in 1956-1957, then struggled against them his last three seasons.

            Snider, as mentioned earlier, faced few lefties in Ebbets Field. In 1954 he got only 65 AB against lefties, in 1956 he got 60 AB, in 1957 just 27 AB. I'd bet 80%-90% of those were road games. And he was probably facing the better lefties in the league (an opposing manager would be reluctant to start a below-average lefty vs. the mostly righthanded Dodgers). Then when the Dodgers moved to L.A. they played in the Coliseum. The Coliseum was the wrong shape for baseball, and the Dodgers laid the field out so that the LF fence was very close and RF was very deep. Alston made Snider a platoon player at that point, barely playing him at all vs. lefties.

            McCovey was platooned early in his career and had some difficulty vs. lefties (.248/.336/.440 vs. .277/.387/.539).

            Stargell's splits were comparable to McCovey (.250/.318/.447 vs. .293/.376/.560)

            Norm Cash really had trouble hitting lefties (.227/.307/.384 vs. .284/.392/.518) and became a sort-of platoon player. His managers never used him in a strict platoon arrangement, but sat him often against lefties.

            Comment


            • #7
              Someone posted Ted Williams career splits. Not sure where they came from, but he was pretty good against lefties for his career, I think .328 batting and something like .594 slugging. Seems he struggled later in life when most guys would have been retired.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by brett View Post

                This is a big deal. For one, it means that left handed starting pitchers do not face the general population of major league hitters.

                I'll say! I had always suspected something of the sorts. It just never made a lot of sense to me that so many so-so lefties can hang around forever, while righties with the same stuff are out of the league as soon as they lose 2 MPH on their fastball. If its because they were facing the Juan Castros and Mark Carreons of the world, then it all makes more sense suddenly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by leecemark View Post
                  --It is no coincidence that Teddy and Yaz have two of the lowest percents vs LHP from the above list.
                  If the platoon split for Fenway Park during Ted's career was, say, 17% or 18%, it would be low but wouldn't fully explain Ted's lack of slugging against lefties. As I said earlier, it was 25% for the entire major leagues during Musial's career.

                  That would still only be half his games, though- he played as many on the road as at home. As it stands now, he was vastly less effective against lefties during the last 5 years of his career, which includes the year Williams himself called his greatest hitting season- 1957.

                  57'
                  RHP .410 .543 .807
                  LHP .319 .470 .495

                  Tango writes on the subject:
                  If you focus on Yaz, you will see that he only got 17% of his HR against LHP (and Fred Lynn, who spent part of his time in Fenway, was also a low 20%). We have Yaz’s career totals, and 24% of his PA were against LHP. Yaz had 2.3% of his LHP PA as HR, and 3.5% of his RHP PA as HR. (Fred Lynn is 2.8% and 4.3%). Lynn and Yaz got around 53% more HR, per opportunity, against RHP than LHP.

                  If we presume that Ted Williams faced only 17.5% of his pitchers as LHP, then his HR/PA rate would be 3.7% against LHP and 5.7% against RHP, or about 51% more against RHP.
                  I spent about 2 hours last weekend combing over these two books:

                  Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero

                  Ted Williams (Second Edition): A Baseball Life

                  The second has Williams' entire career broken down by month, park, opposing team, etc. He even lists Ted's stats against the other 7 teams for every year he played, year by year (home and away).

                  But nothing on platoon splits, explicitly, unfortunately. All we have is Dave Smith (Retrosheet's) partial data.

                  Code:
                  Category   AB    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI   BB  SO   BA  OBA   SA
                  Total    4005 1339 261 27 259  895 1048 383 .334 .473 .607
                  vs left   928  276  58  3  33  174  193 127 .297 .422 .473
                  vs right 3077 1063 203 24 226  721  855 256 .345 .488 .647
                  
                  Career   7706 2654 525 71 521 1839 2019 709 .344 .482 .634
                  In this broad cross-section of Ted's PA's- which presumably covers over half his career- he faced LHP 22% of the time. 11% of his HR were hit off of lefties, which is very close to his career total of 12.3%.
                  Last edited by csh19792001; 03-24-2008, 11:04 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    More on the Dodgers and Snider...

                    Food for thought...consider that Duke Snider hit 7% of his HR off of LHP.

                    Gil Hodges, who played in the same lineup with Snider from 1947-61, hit 20% of his HR off of lefties.

                    Others who played many years in the same lineup as Snider:
                    Campanella hit 26% of his homers off of LHP.

                    Jackie Robinson: 24%

                    Carl Furillo: 21%

                    Pee Wee Reese: 24%

                    Jim Gilliam: 37%

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by brett View Post
                      I have been interested by lefty righty breakdowns more of pitchers recently.

                      This is a big deal. For one, it means that left handed starting pitchers do not face the general population of major league hitters.

                      By rough count about 70% of starting pitchers are righty and 30% are lefty.
                      What are the implications of your emboldened statement above? How does it change how you view a pitcher like Randy Johnson, for example (see below).

                      Do you know what percentage of non pitchers are right handed vs. left handed? Has the relative percentages of left handed position players and pitchers changed over the past 100 years?

                      Since you're interested in pitchers, consider first The Big Unit:

                      Code:
                      I Split          G    PA    BA   OBP   SLG   tOPS+
                      vs RHB as LH     566 13977 .221 .299  .354   103
                      vs LHB as LH     399  1900 .195 .277  .286    76
                      So Randy has only faced left handed hitters 12% of the time, and has completely owned them. The fact that he's only had to face LHH 12% of the time is extremely surprising to me.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                        What are the implications of your emboldened statement above? How does it change how you view a pitcher like Randy Johnson, for example (see below).

                        Do you know what percentage of non pitchers are right handed vs. left handed? Has the relative percentages of left handed position players and pitchers changed over the past 100 years?
                        This info is vital to the study - we need to know the normal distribution of PAs a LH hitter can expect against a LH pitcher.

                        I know regarding Snyder, there were seasons when he was the only LH on the team, among regulars. Certainly, he was the only LH among the Dodgers that pitchers feared. Campy, J-Rob, Hodges, Furillo, and even Reese were all RH. I've read multiple times that opposing teams tried to avoid pitching lefties. This was a perfect storm for Snyder, as he was weak against them, but his teammates provided an inherent disincentive against opponents using them. He was shielded from his weakness by circumstance. Of course, this also stifled the chances of him developing better skills against lefites, as he got so few chances to face him, it didn't matter. Past his prime, once fragile, LH starters posed opportunities to give Snyder the rest he needed anyway, and he was, indeed, disproportionately bench against lefties.

                        Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                        Since you're interested in pitchers, consider first The Big Unit:

                        Code:
                        I Split          G    PA    BA   OBP   SLG   tOPS+
                        vs RHB as LH     566 13977 .221 .299  .354   103
                        vs LHB as LH     399  1900 .195 .277  .286    76
                        So Randy has only faced left handed hitters 12% of the time, and has completely owned them. The fact that he's only had to face LHH 12% of the time is extremely surprising to me.
                        It shouldn't be all that surprising. Lefties were taken out of the line-up when Randy was on the hill all the time. There's probably a couple of things at play here.

                        1. Platooning in general has gotten rather popular, so sometimes there'll be a RH and LH option at a position. All LHs not good enough to hold down a regular spot were regularly benched against Unit.

                        2. Lots of teams used Randy's outing as an opportunity to give their lefty regulars, esepcially non-superstar veterans, "a rest." You gotta give Cliff Floyd a game off here and there anyway, why not against Randy. Often, you'd see this player pinch hit against a righty in the late innings too.

                        3. Increase in the percentage of the league that switch hits.

                        For Randy though, the difference in OPS+ would be negated if you subtracted Joe McEwing's ABs from the RH totals...
                        THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                        In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Warren Spahn and The Dodgers

                          With respect to platooning, I wanted to find out how the best pitcher of his era (Spahn) did against the best team of his era (The Dodgers). I stumbled on this thread over at Think Factory. I'll draw the most pertinent info directly fro it:

                          67. Posted: May 15, 2006 at 09:03 PM (#2021544)
                          I'm still digging through some things - but from 54-57 when Spahn never pitched in Ebbets it wasn't all that uncommon for other top lefties to be skipped as well.

                          Harvey Haddix, made only 1 start in Ebbets in that period.
                          Curt Simmons, made only 1 start in Ebbets in that period.
                          Joe Nuxhall, made only 2 starts in Ebbets in that period.
                          Johnny Antonelli, made 5 starts in Ebbets in that period (none in 55).

                          Those were the only 5 lefties in the National League during that period who were consistently making starts.

                          This doesn't mean that Spahn being skipped didn't hurt his club, it did but it seemed like standard practice at the time.


                          60.Posted: May 14, 2006 at 04:54 PM (#2019936)
                          The source is the 1962 Sporting News Dope Book, which lists all of Spahn's wins and losses up to that point, and the yearly Baseball Guides, which have the schedules broken down by home and road.

                          1946 0-2 in Boston, 0-1 in Brooklyn (0-3 out of 8-5)
                          1947 2-0 in Boston, 1-1 in Brooklyn (3-1 out of 21-10)
                          1948 2-1 in Boston, 2-1 in Brooklyn (4-2 out of 15-12)
                          1949 1-2 in Boston, 0-2 in Brooklyn (1-4 out of 20-10)
                          1950 3-0 in Boston, 0-4 in Brooklyn (3-4 out of 18-13)
                          1951 2-0 in Boston, 0-2 in Brooklyn (2-2 out of 20-12)
                          1952 0-4 in Boston, 0-1 in Brooklyn (0-5 out of 14-19)
                          1953 0-2 in Milwaukee, 0-0 in Brooklyn (0-2 out of 23-7)
                          1954 0-0 in Milwaukee, 0-0 in Brooklyn (0-0 out of 21-12)
                          1955 0-0 in Milwaukee, 0-0 in Brooklyn (0-0 out of 7-14)
                          1956 0-1 in Milwaukee, 0-0 in Brooklyn (0-1 out of 20-10)
                          (Braves lost pennant on last day of the season)
                          1957 0-0 in Milwaukee, 0-0 in Brooklyn (0-0 out of 21-11)

                          12 year totals: 13-24 overall: 10-9 in Boston, 0-3 in Milwaukee, 3-12 in Brooklyn. No starts in Brooklyn for the last 5 years, and only 3 starts against them in their first 5 years in Milwaukee.

                          After 1957 the Dodgers became a much weaker hitting team, but still:

                          1958 1-0 in Milwaukee, 0-1 in L.A. (1-1 out of 21-10)
                          1959 0-4 in Milwaukee, 0-1 in L.A. (0-5 out of 21-10)
                          (Braves lost to L.A. in playoff; Spahn blew a save in game 2)
                          1960 0-0 in Milwaukee, 0-0 in L.A. (0-0 out of 21-10)


                          61. Posted: May 14, 2006 at 07:31 PM (#2020126)
                          While it looks Andy beat me to some of this, since I did the digging I figure I might as well post it.

                          From 46-57
                          At Home Spahn made 204 starts
                          On the Road he made 200 starts

                          Starts versus each team (& team overall W% during that period)
                          BRO: 41 (.607)
                          CHN: 45 (.426)
                          CIN: 62 (.467)
                          NY1: 69 (.525)
                          PHI: 49 (.498)
                          PIT: 58 (.395)
                          SLN: 79! (.533)

                          Now here is Spahn's team's win's and loses (home/road) versus each team:
                          BRO: 11-12/4-14
                          CHN: 17-7 /13/8
                          CIN: 21-7/27-7
                          NY1: 20-14/18-16
                          PHI: 17-9/14-9
                          PIT: 19-9/16-14
                          SLN: 24-16/24-15

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Snider and the Dodgers versus left handed pitching

                            I went back to compile all the available information (mostly by hand) for the Dodgers using retrosheet and baseball-ref. I looked at 1954 and 1956-63 since those are the available years Snider was playing. I wanted to also see how much of an effect Ebbets Field had, since purportedly it was part of the reason for the ridiculous platoon splits, so I also divided it into pre and post move to LA.

                            I attached an excel file with the data.

                            In 1954, 56, and 57, the Dodgers faced left handed pitchers 9.8% of their total PA's. Only 1.85% of the Dodgers' total PA's were by left handed Dodger hitters against left handed pitchers during those years!!!

                            The National League averages were around 25% of PA's thrown by left handed pitching during those years.

                            From 1958-63, the Dodgers faced left handed pitching in 23.7% of their total PA's. 5.3% of the total PA's were by left handed Dodger hitters against left handed pitchers.

                            Duke Snider faced left handed pitching only 7.4% of the time in 54' and 56'-63'. Even after the Dodgers went to LA and lost power in the lineup, Snider continued to almost always sit against lefties.

                            My conclusion? Well, presuming that the retrosheet data for about half his career is closely representative of his entire career, I'd say that Snider is tremendously overrated, since hardly anyone to my knowledge, has taken fully into consideration that:

                            A) he couldn't hit lefties
                            B) he hardly ever had to face lefties

                            No omnibus metric I know of deals with/adjusts for handedness, either.
                            Attached Files

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by csh19792001 View Post
                              What are the implications of your emboldened statement above? How does it change how you view a pitcher like Randy Johnson, for example (see below).

                              Do you know what percentage of non pitchers are right handed vs. left handed? Has the relative percentages of left handed position players and pitchers changed over the past 100 years?

                              Since you're interested in pitchers, consider first The Big Unit:

                              Code:
                              I Split          G    PA    BA   OBP   SLG   tOPS+
                              vs RHB as LH     566 13977 .221 .299  .354   103
                              vs LHB as LH     399  1900 .195 .277  .286    76
                              So Randy has only faced left handed hitters 12% of the time, and has completely owned them. The fact that he's only had to face LHH 12% of the time is extremely surprising to me.
                              It looks like it means that he is so dominant against left handed hitters that teams would simply rather put up all right handers against him. We really need to look and see if the strategy worked. Were the replacement right handed hitters more successful than the starting left handed hitters would have been.

                              I remember in Colorado that they used to use Randy Johnson day as a day to give their left handed positional starters a day off. For a while, Larry Walker got a day off against him.

                              Comment

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