The Right-Handed Power Problem

Ten years ago, everyone wanted young pitching. It was the considered the currency of baseball, the thing you could always trade if you needed to acquire something else. But these days, random kids on the street can throw 100 mph, the strike zone is gigantic, and preventing runs is now the easy part of the game. What everyone wants now is offense, and seemingly, offense in the form of good right-handed hitters.

This seems a reaction to the fact that the league’s platoon splits have gotten larger over the last few years; specifically, left-handed hitters have been exploited more often by left-handed pitching. Here is the league average wRC+ for LHP vs LHB match-ups in each year since 2002:

LvLwRC+

Or if you prefer to see the data in table format.

Season PA wRC+
2002 13,545 89
2003 14,540 86
2004 14,249 90
2005 13,541 85
2006 12,925 84
2007 13,866 85
2008 15,253 85
2009 15,246 85
2010 14,580 86
2011 14,536 80
2012 16,857 77
2013 16,134 78
2014 14,785 83

Note that the decline in left-vs-left offensive production is mirrored by a rise in left-vs-left plate appearances, which is likely not a coincidence. There are only so many left-handed hitters in baseball good enough to regularly face left-handed pitching, and as you go further and further down the ladder, you start scraping the bottom of that barrel. The primary way to increase left-on-left plate appearances at the league level is for teams to start more left-handed hitters than they used to, which could be caused by a lack of quality right-handed hitting alternatives for managers to use instead.

As such, teams are starting to skew a little bit too heavily to the left-hand side, and many teams are looking for right-handed hitters to balance out the middle of their line-ups. This desire for right-handed punch was a driving force behind the Mets decision to punt their first round pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer, and seems like the reason the A’s gave Billy Butler three years and $30 million despite his modest production. Of the five free agent hitters who have signed contracts so far, four bat right-handed and the other is a switch-hitter. The early money in free agency is going towards right-handed bats.

This is good news for Hanley Ramirez, Yasmany Tomas, Nelson Cruz, Michael Morse, and Torii Hunter, all of whom might face more aggressive bidding wars than we otherwise might have expected. This is probably also good news for the Atlanta Braves, who have both Justin Upton and Evan Gattis on the trade block. For teams with money (or prospects) to spend, there are some guys available who can offer some production from the right side, but they won’t come cheap. And perhaps that’s why the Mets and A’s struck so quickly, sensing that the price on right-handed hitting was never going to come down this winter, and waiting for a bargain might just leave them leaning too heavily from the left side once again.

Looking around baseball, it does seem like there aren’t a lot of great alternatives for teams looking for above average right-handed hitters. Decent left-handed hitters seem to be a dime a dozen — the Blue Jays dumped Adam Lind for a song, while the Pirates just DFA’d Ike Davis, and both project for a 118 wRC+ in 2015, one point better than Butler’s 117 wRC+ projection — but there just aren’t that many equivalently decent right-handed bats. And thus, the premium we’re seeing paid to right-handed hitters early on in free agency.

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any decent right-handed hitters who could be acquired on the cheap. So, to those teams who don’t want to pay the markup on established right-handed veterans, I’d like to offer up Tyler Moore as a low-cost alternative.

In terms of availability, players don’t get much more likely to move this winter than Tyler Moore. His role on the Nationals essentially went away with Adam LaRoche, as fellow right-hander Ryan Zimmerman is going to move across the diamond to first base, eliminating the need for a right-handed backup first baseman. The Nationals have used him in the outfield to an extent previously, but with Steven Souza and Michael Taylor around, there’s little need for Moore to serve as a reserve there either. He’s out of options, so the Nationals can’t send him back to the minors, but they don’t have a spot for him on their team either.

Moore is the definition of trade bait, and as a 28 year old with a career WAR of -0.3, he’s probably not going to bring back much in return. But if you’re for a right-handed +1 WAR 1B/DH type who can kind of fake it in the outfield a bit and don’t want to spend $30 million (or $21 million and your first round pick), Moore might just be a guy to go after.

Citing his negative career WAR is slightly unfair, as that’s driven by a -7 UZR in just 500 outfield innings, which translates to a -21 UZR/150; in other words, his defensive value has been rated at a level that would make him something like the worst defensive outfielder in the game. Even Michael Morse, probably the least effective defender still allowed to wear a glove and roam free on occasion, only has a -19 UZR/150 in the outfield. So, we shouldn’t project Moore to continue to play the outfield as poorly as he has, or realistically, play it at all. Any team acquiring him should see him as a 1B/DH, which should hide his defensive limitations.

For those spots, Moore’s bat isn’t anything to write home about, as he has a career 94 wRC+ in 449 plate appearances. However, 90 of those 449 plate appearances have come off the bench, and we know that there is a definitive penalty that pinch-hitters and other substitutes face when they come into a game cold. We shouldn’t be too surprised that Moore’s been a disaster as a pinch-hitter, then; in 65 pinch-hit plate appearances, he’s hit .131/.185/.279, good for a 21 wRC+.

You don’t want to throw out those plate appearances entirely, but we don’t want to treat them as equivalent to the same opportunity as a starter, and his off-the-bench plate appearances account for 20% of his career total, so adjusting for that penalty makes his 94 wRC+ seem a little bit better in comparison. And we don’t just have to rely on his big league performances, since he’s spent parts of each of the last three years in Triple-A as well. In 669 plate appearances in the minors, he managed a 149 wRC+ thanks to a solid walk rate, an average strikeout rate, and some real power.

The combination of mashing in Triple-A and producing roughly average results in the big leagues has Steamer slightly optimistic about Moore’s production level in 2015, projecting a 104 wRC+ for next season. And that’s not accounting for the potential improvement from moving some pinch-hit plate appearances into starting at-bats, so perhaps you bump him up a few more ticks to the ~107 wRC+ range. That would make Moore’s offensive value over 600 plate appearances something like +4 runs above average.

For comparison, Steamer projects Cuddyer at +6 runs on offense, and Butler at +8. Michael Morse projects for +5. Moore offers 90-95% of the potential production of guys signing mutli-year deals, and yet the team who acquires him will pay him something close to the league minimum. And control his rights for four years, in case he does break out and turn into a legitimate everyday player.

It does happen. Last winter, Steve Pearce was a 30 year old with a career 87 wRC+ in 847 big league plate appearances, but he’d hit the crap out of the ball in Triple-A. And then, wham, a +5 WAR season in 383 plate appearances. Tyler Moore probably isn’t going to do that. There’s a reason he’s projected as a +1 WAR per 600 PA guy; his power is just okay for a guy with poor contact skills. But teams are paying a big premium for right-handed bats right now, and Moore can offer a good chunk of what these expensive players are going for, only without being expensive.

If you’re in the market for a right-handed bat this winter, maybe skip the brand names and look at a guy like Tyler Moore instead. The shortage of good right-handed bats shouldn’t mean that teams have to start paying mediocre players like they’re not mediocre.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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southie
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southie
1 year 6 months ago

So Mike Trout is valuable?

Eric
Guest
Eric
1 year 6 months ago

Uh, maybe a little bit.

On a serious note, anyone who has watched the Nationals like I have the last 3 years knows that Tyler Moore bats like Mary Tyler Moore right now. The team that picks him up will have to make sacrifices. Either you let him play and give him a full fledged shot at an MLB job, or you ship in to the minors for regular ABs. This bring him up, send him down stuff can hurt a kids confidence in himself, hopefully some team sucks it up and gives him a chance.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 6 months ago

Tyler Moore would be a 20-25 hr guy with passable defense if given a chance to be an everyday first basemen. When he gets real playing time, he’s a good hitter. He’s been a terrible pinch hitter.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

Maaaaaybe. We just don’t know that with any certainty. He’s been very good in AAA, but sometimes those guys develop into legit hitters, sometimes they’re AAAA guys who can’t make it work and bounce back and forth between the majors and minors.

LHPSU
Guest
LHPSU
1 year 6 months ago

Does the prevalance of shifts further increase the value of a right-handed power bat? Left-handed pull hitters are facing extreme shifts nowadays, whereas it is much more difficult to shift a right-handed pull hitter.

Also curious to know if the rebound in left vs left hitting the last two years represents a trend.

Dolemite
Guest
Dolemite
1 year 6 months ago

why is it harder to shift a righty? is it because someone still needs to be at first, thus limiting the options?

LHPSU
Guest
LHPSU
1 year 6 months ago

Yes, hard for the first baseman to play too far off the line even with no runners, because the play has to be at first. You can’t just rely on the pitcher covering. Add to that the fact that first basemen usually have the least range in the infield, and you create a much larger hole to the opposite side than shifting against a lefty.

Plus, extreme pull shifts against a righty means that the second baseman has to make longer throws than usual from the opposite side of the infield, whereas in a pull shift against a lefty, the shortstop is making a shorter throw to 1B than usual.

Dan Ugglas Forearm
Member
Dan Ugglas Forearm
1 year 6 months ago

Right, and also, if you were to shift a righty in the same configuration you would a lefty, the shortstop would be playing in shallow LF. Maybe Andrelton Simmons can make that throw with regularity, but even the fat/slow/dead-pull prototype could probably beat out a ground ball that’s fielded 20-30 feet into LF.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Is it possible that some of the increase in L vs L PA’s is due to more liberal use of lefty specialists in the later innings?

It is true that there has been a rise in left-handed bats over the years mainly due to the rise in B-L, T-R players. When I was a kid in the late ’60’s it was relatively unusual to see B-L, T-R players but that has changed. It is much easier for a natural Righty to learn to hit lefty than it is for them to learn to throw lefty. Since about 3/4’s of all the pitchers in MLB are RHP’s, it is advantageous for a young RH kid to learn to switch hit or bat exclusively lefty. So, that is what they do.

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 6 months ago

It’s nearly impossible to learn to throw with your unnatural hand (I’ve only ever heard of a couple examples). Something like 80%-90% of humans are naturally right-handed, so most of the pitching population is going to be right-handed…. On the other hand, for most kids, neither batting position is particularly more natural/unnatural than the other, and either can be learned.

So most pitchers are right-handed, and lefty-batters have a natural advantage against them due to physics and geometry. That’s why, over the course of baseball history, there’s been a steady trend towards batters learning to hit left-handed (or switch hitting).

Lefty pitchers can counteract some of that LHB-vs-RHP platoon advantage.
Which is why nowhere near 80%-90% of MLB pitchers are right-handed. But (Pat Venditte aside) I have never heard of a player intentionally learned to throw left-handed for platoon purposes. So, theoretically, the fact that a much larger portion of MLB pitchers are lefties (compared to the human population that naturally throws lefty) means that we have to dip deeper into the talent pool to find LHP’s.

james wilson
Guest
james wilson
1 year 6 months ago

Unlike hitting, throwing oppo handed requires doing it young, but it can be done by everybody. I’ve witnessed two kids develop both arms, or the neural pathways if you prefer.

Mickey Lolich, btw, was right handed. Broke a collarbone when he was ten and began to throw left. No telling for sure, but chances are 9-1 that Jim Abbott is right handed.

hbar
Guest
hbar
1 year 6 months ago

sandoval apparently taught himself to throw with his nondominant hand:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Sandoval

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Yes, his idol growing up was Omar Vizquel, SS, so he had to learn how to throw right handed in order to play SS.

Story from his minor league days was that a hot smash to him knocked his glove off, and he calmly reached down with his nearest hand, his left hand, and threw the batter out at 1B, to the shock of everybody in the stadium.

Oscar
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Oscar
1 year 6 months ago

Billy Wagner learned to throw left handed after breaking his right arm multiple times.

Jason B
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Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

I kinda miss that guy.

Andy
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Andy
1 year 6 months ago

Rafa Nadal.

Reade King
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

I have always heard that the population was about 1-in-7 lefty, not the wider variable that you assigned. 14%, then.

You are correct that these odds give a great advantage to lefty pitchers, the proportion of MLB pitchers who pitch left-handed is much higher than in the population at large. About *30%*- or more of pitchers are left-handed. This still leaves the majority of pitchers as right-handed, thus, as you say, giving the advantage when hitting to natural right-handers who can learn to hit left-handed or learn to switch hit.

The number of natural lefty throwers who bat RH and thus set themselves up for a platoon disadvantage is pretty small, Rickey Henderson is one such- which is really very odd, given that had he re-designed his swing to bat lefty (and had the same success as he did batting right-handed), he’d have had a two-step advantage going to first!

Imagine the numbers he might have put up in that case.

The number of humans who are truly ambidextrous (as I assume Pat Venditte must be) is pretty small, about 1%. the number skilled enough to throw a baseball professionally is much smaller. Thus, Pat Venditte is about the only one so far to do so. My grandfather was ambidextrous. He was both a carpenter and a cowpoke at various points in his life and he could both hit a nail with a hammer with either hand equally well and roll a cigarette with either hand while holding the rein with the other hand…

JP
Guest
JP
1 year 6 months ago

Also, left handed pitchers cause lefty hitters to hit more ground balls, which are turned into outs more readily than they used to be.

Eric
Guest
Eric
1 year 6 months ago

Why is lefty or righty power more/less valuable? Whatever production you can bring to a team, why does it matter what type of pitchers you’re doing it against? Any weakness versus a particular handedness is already included in your overall stats.

Mike
Guest
Mike
1 year 6 months ago

I believe this is just about current trends in baseball. As Dave noted, for so long the emphasis was on developing young pitching talent. After decades of scouts, trainers, and coaches prioritizing pitching, we now have quality pitching much more readily available. I believe the same thing happened with left-handed hitters. They became highly prized and thus a point of emphasis to scouts and coaches. As a result, you started seeing a surplus of left-handed sluggers. However, due to factors unique to lefties (greater susceptibility to the shift and the left-handed strike zone) we are seeing a current trend in which left-handed hitters aren’t as valuable. Trends will run their course and I imagine that this will eventually self-correct. But, for the immediate future, I can see Right-handed hitters being more valuable.

philosofool
Guest
philosofool
1 year 6 months ago

Because LHB have a much larger platoon split than RHB, a LHB can be exploited in high leverage situations more easily. For this reason, many teams would like to add better right handed hitters in the key spots in their line up.

Eric
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Eric
1 year 6 months ago
Eric
Guest
Eric
1 year 6 months ago

Ugh, messed up the formatting… I think Jeff Sullivan’s article on Shin-Soo Choo’s platoon splits from last year addresses this argument very well: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/so-what-about-shin-soo-choos-platoon-split/

tct
Guest
tct
1 year 6 months ago

Because the more unbalanced your lineup is, the easier it is to exploit. Let’s say you are a team who is in playoff contention and your five best hitters are all left handed. A rival who is getting ready to play you in a big three game series may rework his rotation leading up to that series so that any lefty starters he has are pitching against you. He may also bring up another left handed reliever to use, and you can be sure that your team will be seeing lots of LOOGY’s in the late innings. Most teams probably see lefties for around 30% of their total PA, but I could see a team like that getting 40+% possibly against lefties. So the more lefties you stack your lineup with, the more left handed pitching you are going to see, and you will get less production on average from those lefties.

In 2013, the Pirates made sure Fransisco Liriano started in the play in game versus the Reds partly because their three best hitters were left handed, and they didn’t have a single right handed batter with a wRC+ over 100.

Brian L
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Brian L
1 year 6 months ago

Are teams really better off going back to more RH-leaning lineups? LH hitters still get the platoon advantage 60+% of the time. While trends like shifts on LH grounders and increased usage of LH relievers are hurting LH hitters, I question whether theyre enough to overcome the fact that platoon advantage. Seems like *some* teams may be overcompensating.

Mike
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Mike
1 year 6 months ago

I don’t think Dave is saying anything of the sort. He is only noting that current trends in Baseball have inflated the value of Right Handed hitters.

pitnick
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pitnick
1 year 6 months ago

I wonder if this means the Pirates are likely to stick with Gaby Sanchez, as bad he was last year. It would be nice if they could find an alternative who can play more than one position, so they don’t have to eat up a roster spot on someone so limited, but will there be anyone like that available?

M W
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M W
1 year 6 months ago

He’s a prime non-tender candidate. All depends on how they feel about Alvarez’s ability to handle the position regularly.

Stank Asten
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Stank Asten
1 year 6 months ago

So Fangraphs no longer believes Matt Kemp is worth less than zero dollars?

Pale Hose
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Pale Hose
1 year 6 months ago

Fangraphs doesn’t believe anything. It is a website. There are many contributors to Fangraphs that each have their own perspective and opinions.

Jake is da Bomb
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

hardly. there is plenty of groupthink among the contributors.

Pale Hose
Guest
Pale Hose
1 year 6 months ago

At times this can be true, but I don’t think it is true overall. In general, the contributors aren’t nearly as guilty of this as the commentors.

Los
Guest
Los
1 year 6 months ago

I just wanted you to know that I, as an individual, down-voted your stupid comment. If anyone else, as individuals, decides to do the same, is it group think or just that you are an ass?

Pale Hose
Guest
Pale Hose
1 year 6 months ago

Thanks for letting me know.

awalnoha
Member
awalnoha
1 year 6 months ago

I’m not an individual.

Jake is da Bomb
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

and you see a lot of groupthink among the many groupie commenters too.

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

people who express opinions outside the current narrow saber-think are very often ostracized with the stupid thumbs down. I like that these comment sections are un-moderated but you just have to weed out the immature stuff which can be as high as 40-50% sometimes.

Hank G.
Guest
Hank G.
1 year 6 months ago

Luckily, we’ve got you to keep it real and to remind us that Cole Hamels is worth a boatload of prospects.

Los
Guest
Los
1 year 6 months ago

For me it is not a saber/anti-saber stance at all. If you disagree with the “saber” stance, show your work. If you disagree with the “anti-saber” stance, show your work. If I was on BR right now reading about how Ryan Howard is valuable because of RBIs and felt the need to comment, I could use data to back up why his RBI total is misleading or whatever. I think what gets the commenters on here though is that people just argue against conclusions of valid (not always sound) logic by just saying the conclusion is wrong instead of attacking the premises that led to the conclusion.

Using the Ryan Howard example:

(A) Good Hitters are hitters who get a lot of RBIs
(B) Ryan Howard gets a lot of RBIs
(C) Therefore, Ryan Howard is a good hitter

This argument is a valid argument. You cannot convince anyone who believes A & B are true that C is not true because C necessarily follows from A & B. What needs to be done is to show that the premise (A) or (B) are not true and therefore show the argument is not sound.

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

I suppose your opinion matters more, Hank… Is that right?

chuckb
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chuckb
1 year 6 months ago

Comments by idiots here at fangraphs > groupthink…and it’s not close.

Well...
Guest
Well...
1 year 6 months ago

Hank’s opinions don’t matter more. They just happen to be far better informed and a lot less stupid than yours generally are.

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

yep, exactly the sort of judgmental replies seen here that make these comment sections a barrel of laughs.

arc
Guest
arc
1 year 6 months ago

The word you’re looking for is consensus.

arc
Guest
arc
1 year 6 months ago

Yeah, guys. There’s no place for judgement here on this analysis website. All perspectives are equally valid. Merit does not exist.

But yeah back to my point, this article is stupid and these writers are all a bunch of groupthinkin’ lugheads!

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

yeah, the “consensus” of saber-heads is what makes this tend be very “group-thinkie” and if one happens to opine outside that it’s frequently met with derision.

Spit Ball
Member
Spit Ball
1 year 6 months ago

Even though we gettin’ money you can gimme some Moore.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

S’not like there’s unlimited supplies of Toxic Tyler. It’s all concentrated in one individual. Plus, for my taste, Mr. Cameron’s article inclines somwhat towards over-stating the tasty faux-bacon upside and under-valuing that said one unit which happens to be currently available is so toxic, it glows like an Icelandic night sky and emits audibly intermittent disturbing whirring sounds.

I don’t want to come across as Debbie Downer on the larger point Mr. Cameron raises — the relative scarcity of UNCOMMITTED RH hitter power amounting to a (so The) Crisis — so, questions:

1) Am I right in supposing the depth and seriousness of The Crisis is materially affected by the fact that RH hitter power isn’t so much in relative scarcity as what there is of AT THE MOMENT happens mostly to tied up in team control and multi-season contracts?

2) Is it possible there’s an OVER-IMPRESSION of RH hitter scarcity (to the point of seriously prudent minds like that of Mr. Cameron treating same as having reached such a (The) Crisis as to spend most of an article attempting to seduce some unwary backwoods rube of a MLB franchise front office into offering employment to Tyler Moore (indeed, employing such dubious attacks as attempting to under-state the defensive risks of allowing Micheal “Is That A Ball I See Before Me?” Morse to grab a glove and assume a position), that actually traces to the more endemic issue, namely that —

MLB, once again, as per usual, has waited way too long before recognizing their product has passed its BBF date and is beginning to stink the hell out of the pro sportsball business pages, for REALLY OBVIOUS CAUSES ENTIRELY UNDER THEIR CONTROL*?

[*causes like: playing conditions, including heights of mounds; rules on time-outs, balks & time between throw; policy, interpretation & enforcement directions on stuff like strike zones & the increasing tendency towards lengthy tributes to the sainted memory of Mike “Human Rain Delay” Hargrove]

Andrew
Guest
Andrew
1 year 6 months ago

Moore is a decent first baseman. He’s not a good OF but doesn’t embarrass himself. There should be a spot for him in the big leagues. He’s a masher when he gets ABs.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

Both by objective measure and in Cameron’s opinion, Tyler is WORSE at defense than Morse. YOU in turn say, Morse isn’t Gordon or Lagares. but he’s not SO objectively “bad” measured against some un-stated broader sample (e.g. which could including all SE Asian rice paddy farmers and urban hell-hole garment making slaves thru the 3rd world).

Lots of folks have actually WATCHED Morse play LF, including for the Giants this season past. I’m pretty sure the concensus of those folks would be that the effect on observors was routinely located between stroke-inducing and renal failure.

(BYW, he looked somewhat less horrifying at 1B after Belt went down the first time, to a broken digit, for a while – until it became obvious he couldn’t do a lot of things that even merely competent Double A level first sackers are expected to do to impending 2-figure innings and induce despair in starting pitchers.

You’re not saying Cameron’s WRONG in rating & noting Moore definitely WORSE in the field than Morse; you’re saying that Moore’s incompetence as a fielder is of no great import to YOU — who are not pitching for his team, or any MLB team he might play for, or otherwise playing for any team at or anywhere near MLB.

basdasd
Guest
basdasd
1 year 6 months ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ROOi5xagxg

I mind is, indeed, a terrible thing to develop.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

If extroverts go –< <3 o_o sort.

Also, no matter what he 'splains, no WAY that dude's ever drafting no honky like Tyler Moore over a brother.

mlstarr
Guest
mlstarr
1 year 6 months ago

Kevin Towers was a visionary.

edgar4evar
Guest
edgar4evar
1 year 6 months ago

I think the poor performance in the pinch-hitting role is a pretty big knock. Unless a team is ready to hand Moore a regular job, he’s going to be the weak half of a platoon and therefore on the bench a lot. While PH stats are always SSS, what evidence we have of his ability to come to the plate cold is so poor (21 wRC+) that you can forgive a team for not jumping at the chance to put him in that role.

I can see a thrifty team putting Moore at 1B/DH full time as kind of a fallback option once all the RH power is off the market. His power in the minor leagues was quite good (.245 ISO over 1230 PAs) and if he can tap into that as he hits his peak, there could be something there. Tampa? KC? Oakland?

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 6 months ago

Sounds like a good option for the Cardinals to platoon with Matt Adams at 1B.

Murray Slaughter
Guest
Murray Slaughter
1 year 6 months ago

I hear that Tyler Moore can also take a nothing date and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile.

Rufus T. Firefly
Guest
Rufus T. Firefly
1 year 6 months ago

Scouts say that with each glance and every little movement he shows it.

Avattoir
Guest
Avattoir
1 year 6 months ago

Dave Cameron’s saying it’s time Tyler started living and time he let someone else do some giving.

joser
Guest
joser
1 year 6 months ago

Spin in a circle and throw batting helmet in the air… then run like hell because batting helmets are heavy.

Hank G.
Guest
Hank G.
1 year 6 months ago

And they say that “replacement player” is just a theoretical concept.

Jay29
Member
Jay29
1 year 6 months ago

Starting a sentence with a numeral?

Pedantic much?
Guest
Pedantic much?
1 year 6 months ago

Really? That was your contribution? Can you at least give a fake RAJ quote or something useful?

Jay29
Member
Jay29
1 year 6 months ago

He fixed it, didn’t he? :-D

Pedantic much?
Guest
Pedantic much?
1 year 6 months ago

Dunno. You have a number in your name? That’s…non-standard. Better fix.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
1 year 6 months ago

There just seems to be a paucity of good hitters at the moment. Would Mike Trout have been thought of as an elite hitter ten years ago? Personally, I don’t think so. Maybe it is better pitching, however pitchers with pretty marginal stuff have a lot of success these days (e.g. Phil Hughes). …my favorite aspect of the game is pitching, but I miss the hitters.

Brooks
Guest
Brooks
1 year 6 months ago

Are you serious? Have you ever seen Mike Trout hit a baseball?

Ten years ago Melvin Mora, Travis Hafner and Erubiel Durazo were elite hitters. And that’s the kind of baseball you get when Livan Hernandez pitches more innings than anybody, and the likes of Ryan Franklin, Mike Maroth, Shawn Estes, Steve Trachsel, Russ Ortiz, Eric Milton, Sidney Ponson, and Jason Jennings all threw more than 200 innings. None of those guys could pitch mop up in September for a last place team in today’s game.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
1 year 6 months ago

I’ve seen him. He is a guy with decent power and plate discipline that strikes out too much. He is an excellent player. Today he is the first or second best hitter in baseball. Ten years ago he would have been in the top 20, but not in the top tier. With the exception of Hafner, the hitters you mentioned were not elite hitters. Elite hitters were Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, etc.

Those pitchers you mentioned would have had a much easier time pitching today than they did in their day. There are lots of successful starting pitchers in the current game who would have gotten eaten alive ten years ago. Can you imagine the 2004 version of Bartolo Colon, or Hiroki Kuroda, or Phil Hughes, or Ian Kennedy pitching to the 2004 Yankees or Redsox?!

Obviously, this is a bit of a silly argument, because there is no good way to know whether the pitching is better and the hitters have stayed the same, or whether the hitters are worse and the pitching has stayed the same, or a combination of the two. My personal feeling is that the starting pitching is at best the same, the relief pitching is far superior, and the hitters are much worse.

Mark
Guest
Mark
1 year 6 months ago

Those elite hitters you’re talking about? Only Bonds hit better than Trout by wRC+. Pujols was a 169 wRC+ guy until 2009, and Manny was just under 160. Trout is at 165 for his career and that’s still lower than his wRC+ the last 3 years (167, 176, 167). The others did it for a longer period of time, but Trout is in that class and to say otherwise is just ridiculous.

KG
Guest
KG
1 year 6 months ago

The question is, using the same component statistics, would Trout’s 2004 wRC+ be as high as his 2014 wRC+? It was a different offensive environment 10 years ago. If it were not as high, then that really puts Bonds’ 233 and Pujols’ 171 2004 wRC+s into an interesting perspective.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
1 year 6 months ago

wRC+ is not an appropriate stat to use in this context because the stat is scaled relative to the competition of the time. The same hitter will have a higher wRC+ in an era when the competition is worse. Of course Trout has a high wRC+, he is being compared to worse hitters than Pujols or Bonds were.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

“Would Mike Trout have been thought of as an elite hitter ten years ago? Personally, I don’t think so.”

/s?

(???!!!)

Cicero
Guest
Cicero
1 year 6 months ago

.300+ BA 30HR 50SB has always been elite

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
1 year 6 months ago

SB is not part of hitting, and ten years ago 37 players hit 30HR. Not sure why it matters, but about half of those that hit 30 HR hit .300 as well. Those players used to be common.

Reade King
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

So, then, you are not a fan of WAR? It is the current best attempt to quantify quality. Are you a better statistician than those who developed and furhtered WAR? Or is it your eyes are better than everyone who thinks Trout is a generational marvel (this past year excepted- and my fervent hope going forward, as a fan of a AL West rival is that it is the new norm). Mike Trout plays good defense in CF, he is fast, he hits for average with power. Now that the PEDs-debauched gaudy statistics of the era ‘ten years ago’, in your very words, has been buried -and good riddance – Trout, presumably in the absence of those very Performance Enhancing Drugs that were so prevalent in the hitting era you extoll, is showing a combination of skills that has always been rare.

Or, are you going to argue that Rafael Palmeiro was every bit as good, even though he was artificially enhanced?

Eras vary. THIS era has been dominated by pitching. The era you refer to was (illegally) dominated by hitting.

DNA+
Guest
DNA+
1 year 6 months ago

I am not a fan of WAR, but the offensive component is generally fine for some questions. If your question is comparing absolute (and not relative) talent between eras, then WAR and the offensive component of WAR are useless because they are scaled relative to contemporary competition.

I do not think the steroid issue is as simple as you are indicating because the pitchers were using steroids as well.

Mr Punch
Guest
Mr Punch
1 year 6 months ago

Couldn’t a GM with too many LHH and not enough RHH just pick up the phone and call Ben Cherington?

Figwhip
Guest
Figwhip
1 year 6 months ago

I’m just going to beat this stupid drum: Jesus Montero has hit LHP (at both minor and major league levels) like a six year old hepped on sugar at a pinata party. I know it is uncool to like Jesus Montero because he’s a bad runner with no self-awareness, but it would appear he should be regarded as valuable.

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

yeah come on, you can’t come here and say nice things about Jesus Montero and expect to get away with it.

pitnick
Guest
pitnick
1 year 6 months ago

I have to think that a six-year-old hepped up on sugar at a pinata party would probably not hit LHP well.

matt w
Guest
matt w
1 year 6 months ago

I have a non-zero amount of life experience suggesting that a six-year-old hepped up on sugar at a pinata party would hit left-handed pitchers and anyone else within six miles frequently and painfully.

Baseballs thrown by left-handed pitchers they might miss.

LHPSU
Guest
LHPSU
1 year 6 months ago

There is at least a non-zero chance that he makes the Mariners roster as Logan Morrison’s platoon mate.

Spit Ball
Member
Spit Ball
1 year 6 months ago

I’m a Red Sox fan but the right handed hitters the Red Sox might make available (Cespedes, Craig, Middlebrooks, Victorino, Napoli) all have some warts in one way or another.

Rick Lancellotti
Guest
Rick Lancellotti
1 year 6 months ago

I’d say that Craig is almost entirely a wart.

LaLoosh
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

so YOU’RE the objective Red Sox fan…!?

james wilson
Guest
james wilson
1 year 6 months ago

Craig and Middlebrooks are excellent reminders to true baseball fans of how difficult it really is to hit. They ought to be kept around somewhere for the good of the game. Hopefully, on the Yankees.

Middlebrooks is the Moneyball parody of the player who looks like a baseball player so he must be a baseball player.

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 6 months ago

Tyler Moore has warts. The suggestion isn’t for who a team can sign that might win the MVP next year. It’s for who might be a good half of a platoon or provide 300-400 good PAs at a very low cost relative to giving someone like Billy Butler $30 M.

B. Cashman
Guest
B. Cashman
1 year 6 months ago

I have one of the best RH hitters of all time, and he could be yours for you 27th prospect and a handshake.

Cicero
Guest
Cicero
1 year 6 months ago

Wilin Rosario is a career .328/.361/.647 vLHP and is likely at least as good of a RF as Trumbo

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 6 months ago

“…and is likely at least as good of a RF as Trumbo”

I’ll take “Damning with faint praise for $200, Alex.”

Brooks
Guest
Brooks
1 year 6 months ago

Mark Trumbo can actually move, so that in and of itself makes him a better outfielder than Rosario. And we know that Trumbo is vastly superior at first and third than Rosario.

It is open for debate whether Rosario is a better catcher than Trumbo. But then again, Jose Altuve playing left handed is a push with Rosario at catcher.

Cicero
Guest
Cicero
1 year 6 months ago

you know he is better at 1B(while still being awful) and actually go look at the moves Rosario had at 3B on MLB.com. As for who is faster that is a tallest dwarf question

Cicero
Guest
Cicero
1 year 6 months ago

Trumbo and Rosario have pretty similar speed scores on average in their career what makes you think Trumbo is so much faster?

Johnny Ringo
Guest
1 year 6 months ago

Man, Theo Epstein is looking like a genius for loading up on right handed power prospect wise. Hope it helps the Cubs net more in a trade. Or, I hope it simply helps the Cubs period! :)

Nathaniel Dawson
Guest
Nathaniel Dawson
1 year 6 months ago

I’m not sure of the point in isolating only one of the 4 types of batter/pitcher matchups. If you look at righthanded hitters facing lefthanded pitchers, you’ll see a comparable rise in 2012 and 2013. Over the period cited in the graph, the two groups move in lockstep with each other. Major league teams were using more lefthanded pitchers during those two years. For many years up until then, the percentage of lefthanded pitchers was very stable, with minor fluctuations year-to-year. In the past year, it dropped back down to previous levels.

Facing more lefties might put a little more pressure on teams to want more righthanded bats, but I’m not at all sure that’s the way it works, especially given the relatively small increase we saw for those two years. And it was only two years, with a return to the norm in 2014. Maybe 2014 will turn out to be the blip, but right now it’s looking like 2012 & 2013 was the blip.

Also, the gap in production between lefthanded hitters and righthanded hitters has been decreasing over the time frame that Dave uses in his graph. Twelve years ago, lefthanded hitters were significantly better overall than righthanders, around 25 to 30 points of OPS, but that gap has dwindled since then and over the last three years has almost disappeared. This doesn’t suggest that good righthanded hitters are getting harder to find, it would in fact suggest the opposite, that good lefty hitters are the ones that are getting increasingly harder to find.

And all you have to do is go to the leaderboards and see that there are far more righthanded home run hitters than lefthanded ones, to the tune of more than two to one.

I’m just having a hard time understanding why there’s a perception that righthanded power hitters are hard to come by, and a premium should be placed on their services. It looks like righthanded power is plentiful in baseball, and if there’s a group that is rare and should have a premium placed on them, it’s good lefthanded power hitters that can stand in against all pitchers. That seems to be a rare commodity.

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