Do right-handed hitters generally hit lefty pitchers better, and vice versa? The answer is yes; this is generally true of most major leaguers. However, by no means is this applicable to every situation. Sometimes you’d rather have your lefty batter hit against a lefty pitcher, or even bring in a left-handed pitcher to face a right-handed hitter. Jerry Manuel has failed to grasp this concept. Throughout the season he has plagued Mets fans with ill-advised in-game switches because of fictional matchup favorites.
Last night was a perfect example of this situation. Mets rookie catcher (and lefty hitter) Josh Thole was coming to the plate in the seventh inning to face left-hander Mike Gonzalez. Here are Josh Thole’s 2009 Double-A numbers against righties and lefties:
Righties: .328/.396/.437 (268 at-bats)
Lefties: .328/.391/.388 (116 at-bats)
There is no major difference there. Thole hits righties better than lefties, but his numbers against lefties are still extremely solid. The fact that he can bat .328 alone should be an indicator of his ability to hit southpaws. Just to drive home the point, here are his 2008 numbers from High-A St. Lucie:
Righties: .289/.380/.425 (266 at-bats)
Lefties: .333/.386/.432 (81 at-bats)
Yeah, I think we can conclude that Thole is just fine against lefties. But Jerry Manuel disagrees. When Thole got called up to the majors, Jerry said that the rookie wouldn’t play much against lefties: “I want him in spots where he can have success and build on that.”
Anyway, back to last night. Thole comes up, and Jerry decides that this matchup is just too unfair to Thole, and he has a righty catcher on the bench to boot! So up comes the lefty-masher Omir Santos. Here are Santos’ 2009 splits entering that plate appearance:
Righties: .282/.321/408 (174 at-bats)
Lefties: .213/.242/.337 (89 at-bats)
Is there much else to say? This is just Terrible Decision Making 101. So what happened? What else could happen? Santos properly drilled a go-ahead homer over the left field wall to give the Mets the lead. Hitting on 19 in blackjack and getting a deuce doesn’t make your processing correct, and neither does going all-in with 7-8 against pocket queens and hitting a set on the river. A word to the wise, Jerry. Don’t quit your day job to play percentage-based games any time soon. What’s that? That basically is Jerry’s job? God help us all.
I wanted to post more numbers to give a better context:
Omir Santos minor league career: 1248 at-bats (as far back as minorleaguesplits goes)
BIG difference there. .36 points in OPS.
Josh Thole’s minor league career: 1314 at-bats