Yesterday evening, Michael Kay had A-Rod on his ESPN Radio Show in NYC. Sure, there was some stuff that just reeked of host genuflection; but, I found one thing that A-Rod said to be interesting. Basically, it went to the tune of this: I believe one of the best ways to beat the Boston Red Sox is to throw left-handed pitching at them. It takes Nixon out of the game. It neutralizes Ortiz and Damon, and, it makes Mueller and Varitek bat right-handed.
At the time, hearing this, I thought “Well, the Yankees were very right-handed last year, maybe there’s something here?” So, today, I decided to look at the numbers. Yes, as we all know, Trot Nixon is such a push-over against lefties that the Sox will not even run him out there most of the time against a southpaw. There’s not much to look at there. But, what about the other four Sox that A-Rod singled out?
Actually, both this season, and over the last three years, Johnny Damon hits lefties and righties about the same. Makes no difference to him in terms of what you throw. And, this season, David Ortiz is killing lefties just as well as righties. Granted, in the past, LHP and Ortiz were not friends. But, for now, as far as the stats go, facing LHP is not hurting the Dominican Shrek.
Bill Mueller, on the other hand, has been a weaker hitter against LHP – both this season and over the last three. So, here, you get something.
This leaves Jason Varitek. And, with him, it’s the complete opposite of what A-Rod thinks. Varitek, this season and over the last three, kills LHP pitching. He feasts off it. Given the choice, there is no way that you want him batting right-handed, when playing you.
So, in summary, when you throw lefties at the Sox, you take away Nixon and Mueller. There is no impact, at least this year, to Ortiz and Damon. And, you really help Varitek. Oh, and, by the way, when you throw a lefty at the Sox, you also help Renteria (by a lot).
But, here’s the strange part: You, at least this year, hurt Manny and Millar with lefties on the hill. But, outside of this year, Ramirez tattooed LHP. So, who knows what’s up there?
Maybe you can look at it this way: You know that Damon, Ortiz, and Manny are going to hit. So, you just take them out as a given problem. Then, it’s a matter of: Do I want to help Nixon and Mueller or Renteria and Varitek? That seems like a push, no? Lefties or righties, the Sox are going to score runs. There’s no advantage to what you throw, at the end of the day. And, A-Rod was wrong with his idea.