If you are anything like me, you quickly got excited when you heard the Dodgers acquired Josh Reddick to take over for Yasiel Puig in right field. Then as the dust settled you realized that we substituted an average right handed bat for a left handed hitter who mashes right-handed pitchers but is below the Mendoza line against left-handers. My mind was reeling. Then I decided to do a little bit of homework. I wanted to know just how bad we have become against left handers… The results are below:
Corey Seagar – (.260 in 127 abs)
Adrian Gonzalez – (.269 in 108 abs)
Chase Utley – (.186 in 59 abs)
Joc Pederson – (.105 in 38 abs)
Basically this is telling us that prior to acquiring Josh Reddick our top left handed hitters were batting .205 against left handed pitching. Now let’s add Josh to the equation.
Josh Reddick – (.184 in 76 abs). So with Josh’s addition our 5 top left handed hitters are combining to bat .201… Yikes!
Right as I was about to throw in the towel, something hit me. Of all the teams in contention, how many of their top pitchers that we could possibly face in the playoffs are left handed. Which teams contain the kryptonite to bring down the Dodgers in the playoffs? Below is a look at the top teams in each division and the throwing arm of their top four pitchers.
Stephen Strasburg – Right
Max Scherzer – Right
Gio Gonzalez – Left
Tanner Roark – Right
New York Mets
Jacob deGrom – Right
Noah Syndergaard – Right
Steven Matz – Left
Bartolo Colon – Right
Jose Fernandez – Right
Adam Conley – Left
Andrew Cashner – Right
Tom Koehler – Right
Jake Arrieta – Right
John Lester – Left
Kyle Hendricks – Right
John Lackey – Right
St. Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright – Right
Michael Wacha – Right
Mike Leake – Right
Jaime Garcia – Left
Gerrit Cole – Right
Jameson Taillon – Right
Ivan Nova – Right
Jeff Locke – Left
San Francisco Giants
Madison Bumgarner – Left
Johnny Cueto – Right
Matt Moore – Left
Jeff Samardzija – Right
Chad Bettis – Right
Tyler Chatwood – Right
Jon Gray – Right
Tyler Anderson – Left
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Call me crazy but this could be a sneaky genius move. Typically playoff teams tend to go with a three man rotation. I included the fourth pitcher in those few cases in which they are used. If you go with the three man rotation, 21% of the pitchers the Dodgers could possibly face are left handed. If you go to the four man rotation, that number goes up to 28%.
There are a ton of other factors that can go into play but let’s look at those top left handed hitters with the other side of the coin:
Corey Seagar – (.329 in 325 abs)
Adrian Gonzalez – (.306 in 301 abs)
Chase Utley – (.268 in 314 abs)
Joc Pederson – (.271 in 258 abs)
When we look at the left handed hitters’ performance against right handers, we see the top 4 hitters are batting a combined .293. Now let’s add Josh to the equation.
Josh Reddick – (.308 in 208 abs). When we add Josh to the equation, that average goes up to .296. That is 95 points higher than their performance against left handed pitchers.
So what does this mean? It could mean nothing if we fail to make the playoffs. However, if we could capture the NL West. This sets the Dodgers up for a huge advantage going into the playoffs. The only team that would have the ability to neutralize the Dodger’s advantage would be the Giants, and they would have to win a one game playoff first.
So what if teams try to load up on left handers to face the Dodgers. I think the front office would welcome this challenge. As we saw in the Red Sox series, the Dodgers could make small tweaks to the line up to really take advantage of hitters who thrive on left handed pitching. In addition, teams typically have only one solid left handed starting pitcher. The second is typically a number 4 or 5 starter.
You could argue that the Dodgers would have to face the cream of the right handed crop, and you would be right. But wouldn’t you prefer to go into a game against Jake Arrieta loaded with a line up of lefties who thrive against right handed pitching?
I’m not trying to say that we are a lock to have success in the post season. All I am saying is that when you start to peel the different layers of this trade, you see more and more angles that could put our hitters at a considerable advantage. We are seeing the different strategies the front office is taking in order to give their players the best chance to win. It is one thing to just put percentages and numbers into motion, but when they are combined with strong leadership and a club house that is all moving in the same direction, winning will manifest organically and frequently.