July 22, 2009

Yankees crushing southpaws in 2009

jeter6 The Yankees scored five runs in three innings off lefty starter Rich Hill in last night’s win over the Orioles. But beating southpaw starters is not uncommon for the Yankees, as they are 19-10 against them this season, and are hitting .291/.375/.492 as a team against all lefties.

One possible reason for the team’s success against lefties is its surplus of switch hitters. In last night’s starting lineup, the Yankees used four switch hitters (Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher & Melky Cabrera), who ironically combined to go 0-for-13.

However, the two regular switch hitters in the lineup have normally raked against lefties: Teixeira: .330/.336/.538 & Posada: .333/.394/.460. The other two regulars that have dominated left-handed hurlers are Robinson Cano: .333/.363/.598 & Derek Jeter: .441/.519/.634.

No, those numbers for Jeter are not mistakes. In 93 at bats, he has garnered 41 hits, six doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs. Jeter has always been great against lefties in his career (.336/.409/.502), but obviously never this good.

Notably, Hideki Matsui and Alex Rodriguez are sporting very high slugging percentages against southpaws (.620 & .588, respectively).

Also, don’t think these numbers are skewed because these hitters haven’t been challenged by good lefties. The Yankees have beaten the likes of Johan Santana, Cliff Lee and J.A. Happ, just to name a few.

Against the two-time Cy Young Award winner, Santana, who is probably the best lefty in baseball, the Yankees ripped nine hits and tallied nine runs in three innings off the ace. Although, that could have just been the Mets stinking.

Another possible reason for this unheard of success is that the Yankees have a couple of the best lefties in the league in their rotation in CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Two left-handed starters is a lot for most teams, and the Yankees could wind up with three if they add Seattle’s Jarrod Washburn at the trade deadline or call up their own Kei Igawa.

Hitting well against lefties can be both advantageous and disadvantageous. It’s favorable because a lot of times a lefty is considered the toughest opponent in the rotation, but the Yankees actually look forward to facing lefties. However, the majority of starters are righties, so being good against lefties isn’t going to help.

Anyway you look at it, it’s definitely a positive that the Yankees are hitting lefties well. The Yankees can enjoy first place for at least one day, and will (maybe) be looking forward to facing another southpaw on Friday.

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