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View Full Version : Is "Breaking Up the Lefites" Really a Big Deal?



Edskin
06-04-2008, 01:41 PM
This old school notion sort of drives me nuts-- especially if the hitters in question can hold their own against lefties.

I am all for placing your hitters in the best slot in the line-up regardless of which side of the plate they swing from. If that means a nasty lefty can be brought in later in the game, then you simply have to trust that your players can find a way to get it done. Because conversley, they should be heck on righties-- evening things out a bit.

If I was filling out the lineup card (with Bruce now up and Freel out), here's what it would look like:

SS Hairston (No great leadoff options in the organization really. Might as well keep riding Hairston until he takes a nosedive. I've been impressed with his approach this year).

2B Phillips (I just don't think he has the right mentality for the heart of the order. He is way too much of a wild card up there for my taste. It's as if he has absolutely no idea where the ball is going to go when he swings-- no control-- and that lends itself to K's and GIDPS. Of course, he still has his moments at the plate, is a great defensive player, and a team leader. I think the 2 hole is a good spot for him).

LF Dunn (I feel VERY strongly about this now that Bruce is up. Dunn is on OB machine. Bruce looks like he is going to be a major run producer. This makes perfect sense to me).

CF Bruce (Looks like the type of guy that can pretty much get it done anywhere in the order-- I say give him a chance to cash in on Dunn's sparkling OBP%).

1B Votto (This is where Dusty and many others differ from my philosophy. They would really want to get a righty in this spot. But the bottom line is that I'd rather have Votto at the plate in a clutch spot than any of our righty options--even against a lefty reliever. I think this could be a lethal 3-4-5 trio).

3B Edwin (I'll concede the lefty-righty thing here a bit and place EE 6th instead of Junior. But I'd have no problem if they were swapped. EE should never bat higher than 6th-- I don't see him ever reaching the heights many of us had hoped for him, but he does look to be a serviceable player).

RF Junior (I know this is highly "disrespectful" and all, but I'm much less worried about hurt feelings and much more worried about winning games. Junior is still JUST good enough with the bat to have a role on a team, but he desperately needs to be dropped in the order).

C Ross (I'm putting Ross here and not a Ross/Bako combo because I think Bako has officially jumped the shark and returned to his career norms. He is a back-up catcher at ABSOLUTE best. Ross is nothing to write home about, but I think he's a tougher out than Bako).

flyer85
06-04-2008, 01:58 PM
not unless you have really good RH hitters in between(which against RHP, the Reds don't). Otherwise all you do is give pitchers a reprieve and the opportunity to pitch around certain hitters.

Marc D
06-04-2008, 02:05 PM
I like the notion someone put forth the other day...pretend its the top of the 9th , we are down by 1 run and the lineup just turned over. Who are the 3 you want to send up there?

Mine:

SS Hariston R
LF Dunn L
CF Bruce L
3b EE R
RF JR L
1b Votto L
2b Phillips R
Catcher

I could care less about R/L/R for the most part or JR's feelings about hitting outside the 3 hole.

Puffy
06-04-2008, 02:11 PM
I like the notion someone put forth the other day...pretend its the top of the 9th , we are down by 1 run and the lineup just turned over. Who are the 3 you want to send up there?

Mine:

SS Hariston R
LF Dunn L
CF Bruce L
3b EE R
RF JR L
1b Votto L
2b Phillips R
Catcher

I could care less about R/L/R for the most part or JR's feelings about hitting outside the 3 hole.

Thats close to what I would do except I would put Phillips ahead of Votto (more opportunity for Phillips to use his speed)

flyer85
06-04-2008, 02:13 PM
you just need to get the best hitters the most most ABs, which in the Reds case means Dunn and Bruce.

Spring~Fields
06-04-2008, 03:15 PM
This old school notion sort of drives me nuts-- especially if the hitters in question can hold their own against lefties.
You’re not alone in being driven nuts.

Normally when there is a difference in thinking or approach, one will consider the other’s method or opinion in dealing with the matter, then wait to see which person, the other guy, or self was right when sufficient feedback and results have been obtained. (Gee, I was wrong, you were right, and I have changed my mind and make the corresponding decisions observable by acts to support that fact.

Over time, a degree of consistent results will establish which individual or individuals in this case are correct. If we find along that course that we were incorrect, then we modify, adjust or adapt our thinking to the more correct method of the two.

It comes to a point of driving us nuts, I think, when we get a sense that the other party who appears to be in error cannot see that and continues to erroneously apply the same methods that have not brought about maximized production and performance unduly, unduly because it is within their power to recognize the error and to correct their previous decisions and choices regarding the matter, in this case of breaking up the left handed batters some of which have substantial numbers supporting that they hit left and right fairly well indicating that those would not need to be broken up giving the pitcher and defense for the opponent somewhat of a breather and break while weakening the offense of ones own team.


I am all for placing your hitters in the best slot in the line-up regardless of which side of the plate they swing from. If that means a nasty lefty can be brought in later in the game, then you simply have to trust that your players can find a way to get it done. Because conversley, they should be heck on righties-- evening things out a bit.

That is what we would do from our perceptions and we find that to be reasonable to “I am all for placing your hitters in the best slot in the line-up regardless of which side of the plate they swing from.”.

Makes perfect sense to most of us, especially if we look up the statistics for the given players against right handed or left handed pitching to support our thoughts. The other party that is breaking up the left handed batters is not using our rule of thumb, “hitter in best slot in lineup“, backed up by stats and observations. (see CF/SS 1-2 even when they have poor on base percentages, or batter BP hitting cleanup when he clearly doesn’t hit right handed pitching well, but is very strong against LH, Adam hits Bombs Dunn and his very high OBP, while taking advantage of that OBP.) The part that drives one nuts is the inflexibility that calls for a modification in given situations. The breaking up of the left handed batters even when they do hit left handed pitching is an extension of the erroneous parties thinking in this case.

We think as you have written, “If that means a nasty lefty can be brought in later in the game, then you simply have to trust that your players can find a way to get it done.” Which is all that one can do, with the exception of when nasty left handed pitcher comes in later in the game, and if Johnny Smith hits poorly against left hander’s then it would follow to bring in Jakie Jones punch and judy hitter if you need a hit or to move the runners, if you need more, then you would bring in Bubba the bopper who hit’s the nasty lefty’s. We are also assuming that in the earlier innings that by not breaking up the good left handed batters that the act will increase the probability of scoring more runs earlier, making the later change to a left handed pitcher circumvented by the earlier runs.


If I was filling out the lineup card (with Bruce now up and Freel out), here's what it would look like:

Wasn’t all that hard was it, when you're being reasonable. One takes some thought, reviews the significant player stats, then one doesn’t go against the performance probabilities exhibited in the stats, unless one has fore knowledge of injuries etc that would alter a players normal production, recall your observations, make out your lineup and then trust your players to perform. Later if you need to make substitutions based upon the game circumstances or situation dictating the changes then you make those changes.

I will use your lineup, supported reasoning and add the stats against the LH and RH pitcher.

SS Hairston (No great leadoff options in the organization really. Might as well keep riding Hairston until he takes a nosedive. I've been impressed with his approach this year).
LH Hairston .500 .600 RH Hairston .329 .429

2B Phillips (I just don't think he has the right mentality for the heart of the order. He is way too much of a wild card up there for my taste. It's as if he has absolutely no idea where the ball is going to go when he swings-- no control-- and that lends itself to K's and GIDPS. Of course, he still has his moments at the plate, is a great defensive player, and a team leader. I think the 2 hole is a good spot for him).
LH Phillips .397 .758 RH Phillips .310 .433

LF Dunn (I feel VERY strongly about this now that Bruce is up. Dunn is on OB machine. Bruce looks like he is going to be a major run producer. This makes perfect sense to me).
LH Dunn .414 .423 RH Dunn .405 .612

CF Bruce (Looks like the type of guy that can pretty much get it done anywhere in the order-- I say give him a chance to cash in on Dunn's sparkling OBP%).
LH Bruce .692 .667 RH Bruce .650 1.235


1B Votto (This is where Dusty and many others differ from my philosophy. They would really want to get a righty in this spot. But the bottom line is that I'd rather have Votto at the plate in a clutch spot than any of our righty options--even against a lefty reliever. I think this could be a lethal 3-4-5 trio).
LH Votto .412 .593 RH Votto .325 .470

3B Edwin (I'll concede the lefty-righty thing here a bit and place EE 6th instead of Junior. But I'd have no problem if they were swapped. EE should never bat higher than 6th-- I don't see him ever reaching the heights many of us had hoped for him, but he does look to be a serviceable player).
LH Encarncion .287 .437 RH Encarncion .358 .390

RF Junior (I know this is highly "disrespectful" and all, but I'm much less worried about hurt feelings and much more worried about winning games. Junior is still JUST good enough with the bat to have a role on a team, but he desperately needs to be dropped in the order).
LH Griffey .284 .297 RH Griffey .370 .443

C Ross (I'm putting Ross here and not a Ross/Bako combo because I think Bako has officially jumped the shark and returned to his career norms. He is a back-up catcher at ABSOLUTE best. Ross is nothing to write home about, but I think he's a tougher out than Bako).[/Quote]
LH Ross .357 .375 RH Ross Ross .382 .321

"Wasn’t all that hard was it, take some thought, review some stats, don‘t go against the performance probabilities exhibited in the stats, recall your observations/experience, make out your lineup and then trust your players to perform. Later if you need to make substitutions based upon the game circumstances or situations dictating the changes then you make those changes."

One doesn’t just out of hand arbitrarily ignore the current day on base percentages and slugging percentages of their current players, in lieu of something that may or may not have made a difference with a different team under a different set of circumstances especially their OBP and SLG in that day and time, years ago albeit 3-5-8 years ago, or maybe even 30 years ago, especially if it is not fully maximizing your players today.

One doesn’t insist on speedy x player when that player shows a very low OBP because his speed won’t allow him to steal first base, when he cannot get a walk or hit, Adam Dunn does not have speed, but he certainly can get to first base, I mean that to indicate that speed is not the cure all, neither is OBP, but it is a far cry closer to the cure than hoping, thinking once upon a time, (yeah, me and Hank went fishing and we found on that one day that doe balls worked best to catch catfish,) observing, speed that produces outs, while ignoring the true skills and abilities of ones current players realistically.

I came up with this below, I was hoping that some of the stats proficient and SABR guys would communicate to us the corrections if I was off or had oversights.



Lineup/RH Lineup/LH
Hairston .329 .429 Hairston .500 .600
Bruce .650 1.235 Phillips .397 .758
Dunn .405 .612 Bruce .692 .667
Griffey .370 .443 Dunn .414 .423
Votto .325 .470 Votto .412 .593
Phillips .310 .433 Freel .388 .435
Encarncion .287 .437 Encarncion .358 .390
Bako .378 .424 Ross .357 .375

RedsManRick
06-04-2008, 03:24 PM
Handedenss is just a shortcut for avoid platoon splits that create a strategic disadvantage. What frustrates me is separating guys by handedness when the guy splitting them is actually the worse hitter. It shows a fundamental lack of understanding for what is actually trying to be accomplished.

SF, your lineups are pretty good, but I would caution you against using small samples. It takes a long time for platoon splits to stabilize. I'd much rather use something like a 3 year average (or weighted average) -- or better yet, something like PECOTA which factors in much more.

A very simple way to think of it is that what a guy has done the last few years, or even his career, is a better predictor of what he's going to do the rest of this year than just what he's done so far this year.

11larkin11
06-04-2008, 03:27 PM
I always hated it because you could make the argument to put them together for the starting pitcher. Against a righty I want Dunn Griffey and Bruce in some order together so they can produce. Having Edwin, Votto, and Phillips together against lefties would also be good.

Spring~Fields
06-04-2008, 03:39 PM
SF, your lineups are pretty good, but I would caution you against using small samples. It takes a long time for platoon splits to stabilize. I'd much rather use something like a 3 year average (or weighted average) -- or better yet, something like PECOTA which factors in much more.



I did do that, I mean that I did only use the current Left/Right statistics for this year, and pulled a Dusty on the 3 year, while seeing and knowing that the 3 year stats was there I completely dismissed or ignored the 3 year, I will go back and rework it later with the 3 year.

bucksfan2
06-04-2008, 03:42 PM
I think in the normal flow breaking up the lefties actually hurts your team. I really think there is a misperception that lefties can't hit lefties. In fact Votto so far this year has hit lefties better than righties.

I think where breaking up the lefties has merit is in the later innings when a team brings in a lefty specalist. I don't think you should build your lineup to prevent against a situation that happens every once in a while.

RedsManRick
06-04-2008, 03:50 PM
I guess my other fundamental complaint about the splitting the lefties approach is that it is based on the idea of minimizing your weakness instead of maximizing your strength.

If you have a lefty heavy lineup against a righty, stack the lineup, beat the starter in to submission and render that LOOGY useless. Worry about the pitcher you're going to face 3 times through the lineup, not the one you're going to face once.

westofyou
06-04-2008, 03:53 PM
I really think there is a misperception that lefties can't hit lefties. In fact Votto so far this year has hit lefties better than righties.

Votto for his career has done poorly vs LH... could be an anomoly

As for platoon splits it's been known forever that lefties have owned lefties otherwise Casey Stengel would have had more than 2.5% of his ab's in 1922 vs LH's.. thus he might not have ridden the platoon train so hard in his years as the Yankees manager.

Perhaps "stars" who are LH don't do as bad against LH hurlers... but the game is full of guys who aren't stars and finding platoon advantages is something I don't think can ever be overblown... otherwise you never have that Lewis/Branson combo at 3rd for the 95 reds.

Kc61
06-04-2008, 04:09 PM
It's better to break up the lefties, but you need the proper personnel.

Phillips hasn't hit righties that well. So using him to break up the lefties can hurt the offense.

The Reds don't have the high-end righty bat who could most effectively break up the lefties. When Griffey moves on to another team, the replacement should be a consistent righty bat who hits righties well and can break up the lefties.

Phillips is great against lefties, but should hit lower in the order against righties.

PuffyPig
06-04-2008, 04:40 PM
Phillips hasn't hit righties that well. So using him to break up the lefties can hurt the offense.




Except that when Phillips is used to break up the lefties, and that LOOGY comes in to face those lefties late in the game, it's sure nice to have Phillips in between them, which basically forces the other team to use that lefty against Phillips.

Highlifeman21
06-04-2008, 04:42 PM
you just need to get the best hitters the most most ABs, which in the Reds case means Dunn and Bruce.

Bingo.

Once Keppinger is healthy, I'd want Keppinger, Dunn, and Bruce get the most PAs for the Reds.

Heck, bat 'em that way in the lineup...

Keppinger
Dunn
Bruce
Fill in the blanks....

RedsManRick
06-04-2008, 04:42 PM
Except that when Phillips is used to break up the lefties, and that LOOGY comes in to face those lefties late in the game, it's sure nice to have Phillips in between them, which basically forces the other team to use that lefty against Phillips.

But you have to wade through 3 ineffective at bats against a righty to get there. Why not have Votto or Dunn there, putting the game out of reach to begin with?

If you so desperately need to have an option in the event of a tough late game LOOGY, that's what your bench is for.

Degenerate39
06-04-2008, 04:43 PM
As long as they can hit lefties or righties then I don't see the big deal about breaking up lefties.

Kc61
06-04-2008, 04:45 PM
Except that when Phillips is used to break up the lefties, and that LOOGY comes in to face those lefties late in the game, it's sure nice to have Phillips in between them, which basically forces the other team to use that lefty against Phillips.

I agree. It would be best, however, to have the following lineup against righties --

Keppinger SS
Votto 1b
Bruce CF or RF
Big time righty bat --CF or RF
Dunn LF
Phillips -- 2B
EE -- 3b
Lefty catcher/Ross platoon

All this requires is the acquisition of a big time righty bat and an eighth hitting lefty catcher eventually to replace Bako, who is probably a stopgap. And signing Dunn.

blumj
06-04-2008, 04:47 PM
You play series against specific teams, not just individual games. If, in the first game of a series, your opponent has a 1 run lead through 6 innings, and all they have to do to get to their closer is run a loogy out there to put down all your best hitters, that sets them up too well for the rest of the series. If that happens when you don't split up your lefties, then it's probably important to split them up. If it doesn't, then it probably isn't. It's probably more important against teams who have really good LH relievers than it is against just any old team with typical loogies.

Rojo
06-04-2008, 04:48 PM
If you so desperately need to have an out in the event of a tough late game LOOGY, that's what your bench is for.

Yep. More bats, less (bad) pitchers.

VR
06-04-2008, 05:06 PM
I've never stumbled across it, but finding a split that shows the Dunn/ Griff splits vs. left handed relievers....especially the loogy's....would most likely be very freaky. Their performance alone against guys like Shouse is just redonkulously dismal.


Someone that can find that split gets 100 pseudo-rep points. :thumbup:

Spring~Fields
06-04-2008, 05:12 PM
I've never stumbled across it, but finding a split that shows the Dunn/ Griff splits vs. left handed relievers....especially the loogy's....would most likely be very freaky. Their performance alone against guys like Shouse is just redonkulously dismal.


Someone that can find that split gets 100 pseudo-rep points. :thumbup:

That is rough to have to have Griffey used against LH pitching, Dunn, Bruce and Votto can each get on base against the LH pitching and especially Phillips. Is he splitting up Patterson and Bruce tonight ?

Big Klu
06-04-2008, 05:14 PM
Why does nobody ever talk about breaking up the righties? In 1975, the Big Red Machine's right-handed power plant of Johnny Bench, George Foster, and Tony Perez batted consecutively (in one order or another) in 54 games. However, another way of looking at it is that they batted back-to-back-to-back in "only" 54 games (which is only one-third of the season). Which way is the right way to look at it? I don't know....

blumj
06-04-2008, 06:00 PM
Why does nobody ever talk about breaking up the righties? In 1975, the Big Red Machine's right-handed power plant of Johnny Bench, George Foster, and Tony Perez batted consecutively (in one order or another) in 54 games. However, another way of looking at it is that they batted back-to-back-to-back in "only" 54 games (which is only one-third of the season). Which way is the right way to look at it? I don't know....
Sometimes, you might. If your best hitters all happen to be RH, and you're facing a team that has a Chad Bradford or a Cla Meredith type, you should probably at least consider breaking some of the RHHs up for that series.

RedsManRick
06-04-2008, 06:08 PM
Why does nobody ever talk about breaking up the righties? In 1975, the Big Red Machine's right-handed power plant of Johnny Bench, George Foster, and Tony Perez batted consecutively (in one order or another) in 54 games. However, another way of looking at it is that they batted back-to-back-to-back in "only" 54 games (which is only one-third of the season). Which way is the right way to look at it? I don't know....

Part of this is a result of the reality that the L-L split tends to be bigger than the R-R one. Most suggest that this is a result of experience.

First, we have to acknowledge that it is simply more difficult to hit a pitch coming from the same handed pitcher.

Second, there are so many more RH pitchers throughout the amateur and low minor ranks that RH hitters get plenty of exposure to them and learn to hit them fairly well. By contrast, there are few LH pitchers -- especially good ones, thus limiting the opportunities LH hitters have to develop their skills against them.

The presence of lots of LOOGYs but few ROOGYs is borne of an inefficiency in the distribution of at bats against the various types of handedness and delivery style. I think you'll find that most ROOGY pitchers are ones that have funky deliveries for the exactly same reason. Bradford and Meredith were mentioned earlier and you can put Neshek in there too -- all 3 have unusual deliveries.

I've seen it suggested on BP that platoon splits tend to decrease over time as hitters accrue at bats in the major leagues for this very reason.

PuffyPig
06-04-2008, 06:13 PM
BTW, the Reds hit LH pitching much better than RH pitching.

As has been stated, each of Bruce, Votto and even Dunn handle LH pitching fairly well. Griffey did in his career, but doesn't now.

blumj
06-04-2008, 06:37 PM
BTW, the Reds hit LH pitching much better than RH pitching.

As has been stated, each of Bruce, Votto and even Dunn handle LH pitching fairly well. Griffey did in his career, but doesn't now.
Through @ 60 games, that's probably telling you as much about the quality of LHP they've seen so far as anything about them.

Spring~Fields
06-04-2008, 06:48 PM
Part of this is a result of the reality that the L-L split tends to be bigger than the R-R one. Most suggest that this is a result of experience.

First, we have to acknowledge that it is simply more difficult to hit a pitch coming from the same handed pitcher.

Second, there are so many more RH pitchers throughout the amateur and low minor ranks that RH hitters get plenty of exposure to them and learn to hit them fairly well. By contrast, there are few LH pitchers -- especially good ones, thus limiting the opportunities LH hitters have to develop their skills against them.

The presence of lots of LOOGYs but few ROOGYs is borne of an inefficiency in the distribution of at bats against the various types of handedness and delivery style. I think you'll find that most ROOGY pitchers are ones that have funky deliveries for the exactly same reason. Bradford and Meredith were mentioned earlier and you can put Neshek in there too -- all 3 have unusual deliveries.

I've seen it suggested on BP that platoon splits tend to decrease over time as hitters accrue at bats in the major leagues for this very reason.

That clearly tells us how we got here to the left-right split but shouldn’t that thinking be revisited and modified once when your team actually has players that can handle the left handed pitching ?

If not then Encarncion, and the weak hitting catchers need to go because the splits call for better right handed bats, and Griffey because he struggles against LH pitching, though Griffey is still capable of going on streaks.

RedsManRick
06-04-2008, 06:56 PM
That clearly tells us how we got here to the left-right split but shouldn’t that thinking be revisited and modified once when your team actually has players that can handle the left handed pitching ?

If not then Encarncion, and the weak hitting catchers need to go because the splits call for better right handed bats, and Griffey because he struggles against LH pitching, though Griffey is still capable of going on streaks.

I agree. It shouldn't be too complicated. Against a lefty starter, bat your guys more or less in order of how well they hit lefties. And vice versa against righties. Who cares what handed they are? Just focus on how well they hit.

Spring~Fields
06-05-2008, 01:32 AM
757690 from Sundeck
Sent me an interesting perspective from a former collegiate pitchers point of view on the left and right handedness of the lineups, and I would like to post it here as he wrote insights that I had never considered or ever thought of that might add to the discussion and understanding of the left right splits.


I would just like to add one perspective on this matter. I think that the lefty/righty lineup is done more to throw off the rhythm of the pitcher than in consideration of how well each hitter hits off that pitcher, or to counter loogys.

Basically a pitcher has to adjust his approach from hitter to hitter, and the main adjustment is due to what side of the plate the batter hits from. Pitchers will throw from a different part of the rubber, will focus on a different part of the plate, will throw more or less fastballs, will grip the ball differently, and will have a different mental approach, all depending on the handedness of the hitter.

By alternating lefty/righty, a manager makes the opposing hitter adjust his approach from hitter to hitter, instead of getting into a grove for a few hitters while keeping the same approach. As a former collegiate pitcher, I can tell you, no pitcher likes to face an alternating lineup. As a lefty, I know that I would rather face four righties in a row, than lefty/righty/lefty/righty.

Constantly having to adjust your approach, both physically and mentally, is very draining, and makes it more difficult to get into a rhythm. This may have less of an effect on major league hitters, but I know it had a big effect on me.

Author 757690 from Sundeck