Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

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    Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    By Nick Cafardo/Boston Globe
    When a lefty such as Baltimore’s Zach Britton or Oakland’s Brett Anderson has success against the Red Sox, it brings up the question many asked heading into the season — is the Sox lineup too lefthanded?
    The Sox have substituted lefthanded hitters Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez for the switch-hitting Victor Martinez and righthanded-hitting Adrian Beltre. Gonzalez hit lefties at a .337 clip last season in San Diego with a .937 OPS. Crawford didn’t fare as well against them, with a .256 average and a .696 OPS. Martinez raked against lefties, hitting .400 with a whopping 1.173 OPS. Beltre hit lefties at a .328 clip with eight homers and 27 RBIs and a .943 OPS. So there’s a dropoff in production vs. lefthanders.

    Britton, who threw six innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 win last night, improving his record to 4-1, might not be the best example, since he entered the game far more effective against righthanders than lefthanders. But still, this could become an issue down the road. After last night, the Sox’ average against lefties dropped to .236.

    The Sox have good hitters vs. lefthanders such as switch hitter Jed Lowrie, who went 0 for 3 against Britton hitting righthanded (maybe he should have hit lefthanded), but still is hitting .429 against them (12 for 28). Righthanded hitters Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald always have hit lefties well, though Cameron currently is 2 for 16 against them and McDonald is 2 for 11.

    The Sox no longer have to face Andy Pettitte, but they do draw CC Sabathia, David Price, Ricky Romero, Britton, Brian Matusz (currently on the DL), Mark Buehrle, Anderson, C.J. Wilson, Francisco Liriano, Gio Gonzalez, John Danks, and of course a host of lefty relievers.

    The Sox are now 4-6 against lefthanded starters, which is not so out of whack with their season record of 10-12.

    The good news for the Sox is that the two players who were putrid vs. lefties last season, David Ortiz and J.D. Drew, have been very good so far. Ortiz, who hit .222 with a .599 OPS vs. lefties last season, went 1 for 2 against Britton to improve his average to .360 (9 for 25). Drew, who hit .208 with a .611 OPS a year ago vs. lefties, went 1 for 3 against Britton to get himself to 6 for 19 (.316).

    “I’m just trying to see the ball and hit it,’’ Ortiz said. “I didn’t know what I was doing against lefties, but I think it’s going better than it did last year at this time.’’

    When asked if a team can be too lefthanded, he said, “I don’t think so. We have guys who can hit lefthanded pitching. I don’t think that’s a big deal.’’

    Drew felt the same way.

    “I suppose if you have six or seven guys who are lefthanded, I guess that would be an issue,’’ he said. “But we have, what, five guys in our lineup who are pure lefties, so that’s pretty good balance for me. When you’re hitting well as a team, that stuff doesn’t even come up.

    “You go out there and you can hit anyone if you’re hot at the plate. I mean some years, like last year, I wasn’t so good against them, I guess, and I have no explanation why. This year when I face them I’m a lot better and I don’t know why.’’

    Gonzalez, now 7 for 36 (.194) against lefties, said the topic was a non-issue. For someone who has hit lefties at his career clip, that’s true. Gonzalez came up against Britton with the bases loaded in the fifth and rolled a ground ball to second base for a force to end the inning. Gonzalez said lefty or righty, he doesn’t care.

    “It has nothing to do with a new league or a lefty pitcher or my shoulder or anything like that,’’ he said. “I’m pulling off the ball, and when I stop doing that, I’m going to be able to stop rolling balls over and [start to] hit them to the opposite field like I’m supposed to. I haven’t been comfortable at the plate all year. That’s why I’m not drawing a lot of walks.’’

    There are a few other Sox hitters not faring well against lefties. Crawford, who is not hitting anyone well, is 6 for 34 (.176) vs. lefties. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 1 for 13, and Varitek 1 for 17, getting his first hit off one against Britton last night. Marco Scutaro is batting 3 for 14 (.214) against southpaws.

    Too lefthanded?

    “We can match up Cam or Darnell McDonald against a tough lefty if we have to,’’ Gonzalez said. “I think we’re fine. I think we had much harder lefthanded throwers in the National League.’’

    The team does indeed think it’s fine. After all, the feeling is that lefthanded hitters are well-suited in Fenway Park, so why not load up with lefty bats?

    Scouts often mention the lefthandedness of the Sox, and the fact that effective righthanded swings from Jason Bay, Beltre, and Martinez are no longer part of the lineup.

    It’s no secret that lefthanded pitchers love a lineup in which the prominent hitters are lefthanded. You don’t think Jon Lester loves facing lefthanded hitters? Of course he does.

    And despite the fact that Britton so far had been more effective vs. righties, the Sox hitting from the left admitted that he was tough.

    “He threw one pitch to me 96, so he’s got good velocity and good movement,’’ Drew said. “He throws that sinker. That kid is going to be really good in this league against anybody, but we do face a lot of good lefty pitchers and most of them are power guys with good velocity and they’re tough on lefthanders.’’

    It’s a long season, and the sample size against lefties is always much smaller than righties, but success against lefties could mean the difference.

    It’s too early to tell how good the Sox will be vs. lefthanders, but there’s reason to ask the question: Are the Red Sox too lefthanded?

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from mrmojo1120. Show mrmojo1120's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    The left side.
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from southpaw777. Show southpaw777's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    They have 2 RH bats on the bench, 3 if you count scoot, and neither of them played last night..But in Titos defense, Papi and Drew are killing lefties so far this year, so why bench them..And hes probably gonna give CC a long leash due to past history and paycheck..Im fine with the 25-man roster..
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from dgalehouse. Show dgalehouse's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    The nature of the game gives a small , natural advantage to left handed hitters. They are closer to first base to begin with and their swing moves them further  in that direction. Also, the majority of pitchers are right handed. Tito has the option to platoon,  with three right handed hitters on the bench , if he so chooses . How necessary that is should become clearer as the season progresses.
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from hill55. Show hill55's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    "Gonzalez, now 7 for 36 (.194) against lefties, said the topic was a non-issue. For someone who has hit lefties at his career clip, that’s true."

    I'm unclear what this means.

    Although Adrian Gonzalez hit lefties well last year, here are his career splits:

    vs. LHP .260/.336/.436/.772
    vs. RHP .296/.382/.537/.920

    That's a significant difference.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from ZILLAGOD. Show ZILLAGOD's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    They have one left hand batter too many.

    And it's J.D.Drew.

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from ampoule. Show ampoule's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    In Response to Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?:
    [QUOTE]They have one left hand batter too many. And it's J.D.Drew.
    Posted by ZILLAGOD[/QUOTE]

    I think Crawford could be added to your list.  Unfortunately, there's not much the FO can do.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from SpacemanEephus. Show SpacemanEephus's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    Strange days.  Yes, the line-up is obviosuly a bit left-heavy.  But, at the moment, teh guys that should be half-decent against lefties, Gonzalez and Crawford are not good at all, and the guys who were supposed to be platooned for this year against lefties, Drew and Papi, have been hitting lefties better than righties.  Go figure.  It is one of the great questions that will determine the outcome of the 2011 Sox season:  TOO LEFT-HANDED?? Its scary stuff.  But I love the thrill.  Could be the ultimate problem that sinks the offense ... could be the best offense ever.  Right now, its all topsy-turvy.  Certainly we won't be able to fully assess until Gonzalez and Crawford finally get on a hot streak.
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from moonslav59. Show moonslav59's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    YES!

    I think we have faced 10 LH'd starters out of our first 22 games.

    We were weak vs LHPs before we signed Crawford. Now, we are worse.

    Even Pedey has struggled vs LHPs the past couple years.

    Scuty and Ellsbury are about the same vs both.

    Youk is the only the FT guy who kills lefties and starts vs righties as well.

     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from summerof67. Show summerof67's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    True dat, moon. You can see how the opposition just stacks their rotations so that we face the lefties at least once a series.  Less so for the Yankees, though they have their own vulnerabilities v. LHs.
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from georom4. Show georom4's posts

    Re: Is the Sox lineup too lefthanded? What side of this argument are you on?

    As a southpaw myself I must protest this thread - as Bill Lee once pointed out, us lefties are the only ones in the right mind (check brain function diagram)...to suggest that there are too many lefties is to revert back to the Middle Ages when lefties were considered sinister (Latin languages still use this word to mean left)

    We are not sinister - we are just sick of using scissors that fit wrong, nuns that hate us, and most of all, crashing head first into oncoming traffic because our instincts tell us to pull the car left when trying to avoid an accident.

    I will not accept this type of persecution - lefties of the world unite - you have only your field hockey sticks to lose! (fyi: field hockey does not have lefty sticks...wtffff????)
     

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