Orioles Think Tank

Orioles Coverage for the Information Age

Do the Orioles Need Another Lefty?

Posted by Mike on February 3, 2006

A lot of people out there in Orioles land have reservations about this year’s bullpen. Of particular cause for concern seems to be the apparent lack of any credible lefthanders, accented by the departure of last year’s relief ace, B.J. Ryan, and top set-up man, Steve Kline. The point of all this worrying is that you’re supposed to have a guy that can come in and mow down a tough left-handed hitter in a high leverage situation, right? So, let’s take a look at how some of the players that project to have roles in this year’s pen have fared against lop-sided batters. What follows are the 2005 batting lines (BA/OBP/SLG) of left-handed hitters against much of the projected O’s bullpen, followed in parentheses by the 2005 batting lines of all hitters (both lefties and righties) against the same pitchers.

  • LHP

John Parrish– 30 ABs, .200/.314/.333 (.279/.419/.382)

Eric DuBose– 48 ABs, .146/.241/.292 (.243/.356/.383)

Tim Byrdak– 56 ABs, .214/.323/.286 (.255/.380/.321)

Franklin Grascesqui– Not enough data

  • RHP

Jim Brower– 47 ABs, .277/.358/.447 (.282/.387/.479)

LaTroy Hawkins– 101 ABs, .228/.295/.366 (.265/.336/.420)

Chris Ray– 67 ABs, .284/.347/.478 (.222/.306/.373)

Todd Williams– 114 ABs, .263/.312/.307 (.252/.317/.339)

Aaron Rakers– 22 ABs, .227/.308/.364 (.220/.255/.480)

Orber Moreno*- 70 ABs, .229/.295/.300 (.239/.308/.313)
*2003-2005 data used

Sendy Rleal, Eddy Rodriguez– Not enough data

One thing that should also be pointed out is that B.J. Ryan actually authored a slight reverse platoon advantage in 2005 (but he was mighty dominant against both sides) and Steve Kline did everything but live up to his billing as shut-down lefty specialist (.317/.364/.515 vs. LHB).

A few other things jump out at me. For one; Parrish, DuBose, and Byrdak may not have marquee names, but all were very effective in their limited duty against left-handers in 2005. Another is that every righty listed not named Chris Ray pitched at least as well against left-handers in 2005 as they did against right-handers. Some of this is due to the natural fluctuation in the distribution of hits against relief pitchers, since by definition you are dealing with small sample sizes. In other instances, such as in LaTroy Hawkins’ case, the reverse platoon advantage holds true over the larger 2003-2005 sample size as well. In fact, looking at Hawkins’ and Kline’s relative effectiveness against lefties last year, I am once again stuck scratching my head as to what the Giants were thinking with that trade.

Ultimately, two things can be drawn from this. One, don’t get in a huff about whether or not a team has enough situational relievers. I mean, have you checked out the Angels bullpen recently? They had 27.7 innings pitched in relief by left-handers in all of 2005 and finished the year with a bullpen ERA of 3.52. The fact that almost every right-hander projected into the Orioles bullpen in 2006 shows no significant decrease in effectiveness against left-handed batters only reiterates how silly an overemphasis on handedness can be. Secondly, if you still don’t buy into the first argument, then you can at least take solace in the fact that the lefties the O’s do have performed pretty fairly against their own kind.

So let’s hope the O’s don’t go out and address their need for a veteran LOOGY by throwing millions, or worse- prospects, at the first guy they see throwing with the wrong hand.


5 Responses to “Do the Orioles Need Another Lefty?”

  1. eddie said

    I think the Os lost some with Ryan’s departure but if you look at Mazzone’s record, the only time the Braves had a bonafide closer in their current dynasty, it was either Wohlers or Smoltz. Surprisingly the Braves have had a healthy amount of turnover in their pen without losing much in performance or record. There might be something to that. Old school logic will tell you that if handled correctly, solid RPs will be less exposed and be effective. A lot of that logic though depends on the IP and performance of the rotation. All in all, I think swapping a RP (Julio) for a SP (Benson) is always good practice if you ask me. If Mazzone can keep Benson healthy and post 30 starts, 200 IP, I think whatever Julio does it won’t matter. Our bullpen will still be better overall by August than it has been in years.

  2. eddie said

    ..by “better” I mean in terms of the rate of IP the bullpen will have logged by August due to more IP from the rotation will keep them fresher and less likely to collapse.

  3. joel said

    America may be the land of opportunity, but it is also the land of Big Trade-Off, sure, you can have that nice house, but you’re going to have to become a mortgage slave to keep it.
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  4. Mike said


    How did you know that I hate my job and am a slave to my mortgage?

    Oh yeah, I bitch about it constantly.

  5. Mike said

    Good points Eddie. I was just reading some quote from Mazzone about how any bullpen can be overexposed if the rotation isn’t up to snuff.–>

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