Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Problem With Lefties...

We know the Bucs started the year with 1B and RF penciled in as platoon positions, so we thought it was time to take a peek at the results...

First base is actually fairly effective. Both Gaby Sanchez and Ike Davis can field the position without embarrassment, and both have done reasonably well against opposite-side pitchers, as per their job descriptions.  Ike is hitting .286 with an .852 OPS against righties in 76 PA; that's offset by going hitless against lefties.

Gaby is banging away against LHP with the same .286 BA and a strong .937 OPS. He 's not entirely lost against righties, but his .237 BA and .799 OPS are are step down from the damage he does to southpaws. The Sanchez problem is that he has just 22 PA against lefties and 43 versus righties.

The only problem with the duo is they become fairly easy match-up targets later in the game, and that matches their career MO.

Right field has been a den of horror offensively. Jose Tabata, whose past resume showed that he could handle pitchers from either side, is hitting but .217 with a .560 OPS against righties, tho he's killing southpaws (.353 BA, .765 OPS, 17 PA) in very limited duty. His lefty complement, Travis Snider, is hitting .234 with a .698 OPS against RHP, and doesn't even look at lefties, with just two at-bats all season against same siders.

That explains why Josh Harrison got four starts and why the drumbeat for Gregory Polanco grows louder. The only reason Andrew Lambo isn't getting a look right now is because the Bucs needed pitching so badly for a spell, and now that they can carry a bat on the roster, he's hurt. Even tho Chris Dickerson isn't on the 40-man roster, he's hitting .309 at Indy and has a lifetime .264 BA/.763 OPS against RHP, so he is a darkhorse candidate to replace Lambo for a while, tho lesser lights are on the roster and can be brought in without a paerwork shuffle.

Another advantage for RHPs facing the Bucs is the SS abyss; Jordy Mercer is hitting .145 with a .356 OPS (.273/.698 v LHP) and Clint Barmes slashes at .194 with a .483 OPS against righties, sheesh on both of them. Maybe Harrison should be getting some time here instead of RF.

As for Pedro, well, he's actually hitting both sides with equal results - .204 BA/.709 OPS against righties, .200/.726 v lefties. That's one of those half-glass of water stats.

Cutch, Starling Marte, Neil Walker (despite the buzz) and Russ Martin are capable against either side, with a slight preference for LHP.

So what's the problem with lefties...well, actually none, except in right field. Their biggest problem is they don't show up enough on the schedule; only three southpaws have started against Pittsburgh.

The problem, it ends up, is against RHP. The Bucs have two positions, RF and SS, that are all but taken out of the equation by righties, and Pedro is a .200 hitter. The team hits .237/.679 OPS against RHP with a much better .258/.738 slash against southpaws. The Bucs have 190 PA against lefties and 1144 v RHP. 

Having five guys that are equally adept against either side is a start; the Pirates have to add to the group and get away from their platoon schemes, which are too easy to counter in the late innings, and find more guys who don't care which hand the ball flies out of. That's the next step in building a team.

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