Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lefties Rule!

Washington University professor David Peters takes a look why lefties rule in major league baseball. His reply is both simple and fascinating and makes me wish that I could have fulfilled my goal in life as a left handed specialist, who pitched 17 years in the majors with 13 teams.

"Q:When are diamonds a left-hander's best friend? A: When they're baseball diamonds, says Washington University in St. Louis engineering professor David

Just look at the numbers. While only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, 25 percent of major leaguers are. Of the 61 pitchers enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 13 are left-handed, or 21 percent, more than twice that in the general population. It's even more striking for position players:

Of 128 in the Hall, 71 are righties, 59 are lefties and eight are switch-hitters — or close to 50-50! Among left-handers are some of the game's greatest: Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, Stan Musial, George Brett, Barry Bonds.

Why such a tilt? Most important is that left-handed batters get a better look at the pitch from a right-hander, since that hand is hurling from an angle more straight-on to their eyesight. A right-handed batter, on the other hand, sees the ball coming from over his shoulder, the reason batters switch-hit.

Then there's running to first base: When a right-hander swings, his momentum carries him the wrong way toward third base; a lefty already stands some five feet closer to first, with his swing and spin carrying him in the correct direction. So a lefty gets to first base about 1/6th of a second faster, translating into more hits and a higher batting average. For lefty pitchers on the mound, they stand automatically facing a runner on first, making a pickoff far easier."

So in theory, should a right handed pitchers/right handed hitters be judged differently within baseball circles because they are born with the "disadvantage" of being right handed?

There's some food for thought.


tHeMARksMiTh said...

Okay, but why does a pitcher who is left-handed have an easier time considering he still faces a vast majority of right-handed hitters? He answered the batter question but not the pitcher part.

And I've always heard that lefties were more athletic because of which side of their brain is dominant (the one in primary control of coordination). That might be total BS, but I've heard that.

Anonymous said...

Williams and Brett were both righthanded people who merely swung lefthanded.

In today's MLB, Adrian Gonzalez is righthanded, but throws/bats lefthanded, and Billy Wagner is righthanded but throws with his left, not to mention the many who throw right/bat left.

Joba Chamberlain is lefthanded but throws righty.

So some of the statistics here are skewed a bit, as its not necessarily BEING lefthanded that helps, but playing lefthanded.