In light of Alex’s Rule Five draft recap, I thought I’d take a closer look at the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Jaime Hoffmann. To be honest, I had never heard of Hoffmann until just before the Yankees drafted him. In trying to find out more about Hoffmann, I found something interesting in his platoon splits that I thought was worth looking into.
One would think, if Hoffmann makes the team out of spring training, that he could start against some tougher lefties assuming Curtis Granderson doesn’t suddenly figure out how to manage a decent batting line against southpaws. Hoffman hit .308/.432/.542 against lefties in ’09, and .281/.359/.401 against righties. That’s more than 200 points of OPS, and it wasn’t because of a disparity in his BABIP (his BABIP against lefties was actually lower than it was against righties). But if you look at ’07 and ’08 splits, the numbers are flipped from what they were this past season. He has a reverse platoon split in those seasons, but a normal (and fairly large) platoon split in 2009. A reverse platoon split is when a righty batter hits better against a righty pitcher, and vice versa.
It’s impossible for me to say exactly what his true platoon split is, but let’s look a little deeper. Here are his walk-to-strikeout ratios (BB/K) for the last three seasons against both types of pitchers:
— — Left — — Right
2007: 12/13 — 35/60
2008: 9/17 — 45/56
2009: 25/12 — 26/46
Before you cry small sample size (his PA totals versus left-handers are only in the 110-150 range), be aware that strikeout and walk rates are among the first stat categories to stabilize. Looking at this, it seems that Hoffmann’s huge improvement against lefties in 2009 might be more of a real improvement than just a fluke. For some perspective on what a 2:1 BB:K ratio means, see this list of the MLB leaders. Obviously it’s not the be-all end-all statistic to look at when thinking about hitting ability (ahem, Luis Castillo), but it’s a decent indicator.
After not having great success against left-handers earlier in his career, there are some doubts over whether or not his 2009 explosion against them was real or simply a fluke. Looking at this a little more closely has led me to believe his success will continue.