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  1. Odd that switch hitters would in theory always be enjoying the platoon split, yet their wOBA was lower than LHH and RHH most years. You’d think they’d look much more like LHH than RHH but they are the same or worse than RHH most of the time.

    Comment by Mcshane — December 17, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  2. A long, long time ago I read somewhere that the righty-lefty thing was about 10%, and I made this one of my core beliefs. I’m happy to see that your tables confirm this as a fair estimate.
    Why, oh why, then do virtually all managers, fans and writers treat it like it’s far larger than that? (Bart Simpson pinch-hitting for Daryl Strawberry is not that much of an exaggeration.)

    Comment by Baltar — December 17, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  3. Because if I’m 10% better, and your team wins 80 games …you are midpack. Meanwhile I win 88… and I’m sniffing at the playoffs.

    And clearly, you never played stratomatic! :)

    It’s true, platoon advantage isn’t always very significant… but sometimes it’s huge.

    On the downside, too many platoons can leave you restricted when it comes to roster space.

    Comment by Dave S — December 17, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  4. *Homer Simpson*
    Homer pinch-hit for Strawberry. Griffey with the super tonic, Clemens as a chicken, Mattingly doesn’t know what sideburns are, Ozzie in the endless pit, Canseco saving the entire house, Scioscia with the radiation poisoning. Truly one of the great episodes in a TV show that was amazing the first 6 or so seasons.

    Comment by Jacque Jones — December 17, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

  5. I think it’s reasonable to assume most switch hitters are better from one side of the plate. So even though they have the platoon advantage from their weaker side, they aren’t as good of a hitter as someone from their natural side.

    This fact could negate the platoon advantage, and would suggest most switch hitters shouldn’t be.

    Comment by Travis L — December 17, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  6. It would be interesting to see similar breakdowns by component, e.g., BB%, K%, BABIP, HR rate. I suspect there are differences in how quickly the splits for these different categories stabilize.

    Comment by craigtyle — December 17, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  7. It stands to reason that a switch hitter is better from one side of the plate than the other, but it doesn’t at all follow that they are better from that side of the plate against all pitchers. A switch hitter may be better right handed than left, but he still may hit righties better as a lefty. So he has a platoon split, but were he not a switch hitter, it might be even larger. Since we never actually see him hit from his better side with the platoon disadvantage, it’s impossible to know which is the case.

    Also, to me it makes perfect sense that switch hitters are worse on the whole than righties and lefties. Switch hitting strikes me as something that hitters often learn to do because they aren’t hitting very well at some point. A more talented hitter would probably just stick with his preferred side because he is already enjoying success from that side. Also, a switch hitter may have discovered a crippling platoon split at some level of ball and learned to switch hit to try to combat that. A more talented hitter would also probably be less likely to have a crippling platoon split, or he may be a lefty that hits righties so well he can get away with it (see: Andre Ethier)

    Comment by Bip — December 17, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

  8. The problem I see is not that managers treat platoon splits as if they are larger than they actually are. The problem is that managers seem to believe that platoon splits are 100% constant for every hitter and pitcher. A lot of players have reverse splits, and many pitchers also don’t have very large splits. Far too often managers will either pull a batter who should have the platoon disadvantage or they’ll put in a player who should have the advantage when neither player shows much of a split. Add that to the fact that usually it’s a better hitter being pulled in favor of a worse one and the inherent difficulty in pinch hitting and you’ve got a situation where it makes no sense to pinch hit.

    Sometimes I wonder if managers feel compelled to make lineup moves just to show that they exert some effect on the ongoing game.

    Comment by Bip — December 17, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

  9. Also, if teams see switch hitting as something that is valuable in and of itself, that means they may pick a switch hitter who has an overall worse wOBA than a righty or lefty. If we assume instance of switch hitting is independent of hitting skill, then that means that some switch hitters lower down the hitting skill scale will be pushed up the desirability scale due to another skill. So you’d find that switch hitters hit worse overall for the same reason defense (probably) has a slightly negative correlation with hitting.

    Comment by Bip — December 17, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

  10. If I remember, BB% and K% stabilize much faster so presumably their splits would as well.

    Comment by Bip — December 17, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

  11. So, do you think managers are properly accounting for platoon splits? How much better than average does a right handed hitter have to be to make it worth playing him over a typical lefty off the bench?

    Comment by Ken — December 18, 2012 @ 11:11 am

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