In my previous article, “Going on Defense Against the Astros: Their Batters, Our Pitchers," I discussed some information I had learned about why people tend towards predominantly using their right or left hands and then discussed righties and lefties in baseball. Clearly, pitching, batting, and fielding all require using the dominant hand.
The Offense: Mariners' Batters
I used ESPN statistics and the Mariners’ 2022 data to gather this information about our potential Mariners lineup. The statistics are not limited to the Mariners games with the Astros but extend to the entire regular season.
- Several players have just a slight difference in their OPS (total of on base percentage and slugging percentage) against left and right-handed pitchers: Ty France, J.P. Crawford, Julio Rodriguez, Cal Raleigh, and Dylan Moore. (We can think of them as ambidextrous.)
- These players favor left-handed pitchers: Geno Suarez (although he is still .753 against righties), Sam Haggerty, Teoscar Hernandez, A.J. Pollock.
- These players favor right-handed pitchers: Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Tremmell, and Kolten Wong.
In summary, including our first “ambidextrous” group who bat well against both types of pitchers, nine of our players can successfully bat against left-handed pitchers and eight players can successfully bat against right-handed pitchers. Having several switch hitters on the team is very helpful. Is there a way for people coaching youth to encourage switch-hitting?
The Defense: the Astros Starting Pitchers
The Astros have four right-handed starting pitchers and one left-handed starting pitcher.
- Lance McCullers (RHP) has an OPS of .555 against lefties and .712 against righties. (He is more successful with lefties.)
- Framber Valdez (LHP) has an OPS of .505 against lefties and .621 against righties. (He is more successful against lefties.)
- Jose Urquidy (RHP) has an OPS of .679 against lefties and .774 against righties. (He is more successful against lefties.)
- Luis Garcia (RHP) has an OPS of .723 against lefties and .638 against righties. (He is more successful against righties.)
- Christian Javier (RHP) has an OPS of .592 against lefties and .515 against righties (He has similar success with both types of batters but is slightly more successful against righties.)
In summary, three pitchers are more successful with left-handed batters, one is better against right-handed batters, and the third has a slight advantage with righties.
The Mariners’ lineup is ready for any of the Astros pitchers in terms of the right/left hand advantages. They have many players who do well in terms of both types of pitches. Perhaps shifting players according to a particular pitcher's lower success rate would benefit the team. It's something to keep an eye on as the Mariners continue their chase of the Astros in 2023.