Baseball Handicapping: Top Teams Against Lefties
by Robert Ferringo - 05/18/2009
Across cultures and throughout history left-handed people have been seen as an oddity, or as someone or something sinister. According to or friends at Wikipedia, "the left hand symbolized the power to shame society, and was used as a metaphor for misfortune, natural evil, or punishment from the gods." Yet, if you are a pitcher in the Major Leagues being left handed generally means millions of dollars and an extensive baseball career.
The lefty-lefty, righty-righty matchup between hitters and pitchers is something at the very foundation of baseball strategy. Therefore, it should also be at the forefront of our MLB betting strategy as well. And understanding which teams do the most, and least, damage against southpaw starters - be it with a sensational win-loss record or with a strong record against the total - is a simple and effective way to "quick cap" Major League Baseball.
Not everyone has three or four hours a day to pour over statistics and then another eight hours to actually watch teams perform. But if you want an easy way to narrow down some potential selections each day playing on teams that dominate opponents (and totals) when facing a southpaw starter is a great way to start. Here are the top hitting teams against left-handed pitching in the Major Leagues:
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1. New York Mets (.346) - The Mets have been absolutely slaying lefties for the past three years and this season they are absolutely out of their minds. They were No. 7 against southpaws last season and No. 4 in 2007. So far this season they have won five of seven against lefties, most recently laying a beating on Randy Johnson on Saturday. Dating back to last year they are 23-11 in their last 34 against southpaws and 38-22 against lefty starters over the last two years.
2. Toronto Blue Jays (.315) - Aaron Hill. Alex Rios. Vernon Wells. Scott Rolen. Kevin Millar. If you're a lefty, good luck getting through that part of the order without giving up some base runners. The Jays are just 8-7 against lefty starters this year but I suspect that as the season goes on they will be elevated to the level of automatic play.
3. Houston Astros (.303) - Miguel Tejeda. Lance Berkman. Carlos Lee. Hunter Pence. Pudge. If you're a lefty, good luck getting through that part of the order without giving up some base runners. The Astros actually started the year pretty poorly against lefties. But as Lee and Tejeda have started to pick it up this team is soaring up the chart. The Astros are just 4-4 (with one game suspended) against lefties this year, but they are a stellar 7-2 against the total when the opponent starts an 'L'.
4. New York Yankees (.302) - Even though a lot of New York's power is from the left side and the short porch is in right field, the Yankees are still doing their best work against the southies. And that's only going to get better once A-Rod gets himself right. Their best situation? The Yankees are 53-21 at home against left-handed starters.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (.295) - This is quite an upgrade for a team that was No. 24 in the league at .245 last year against lefties. However, I'm still not sure that this average is a good reflection of this team's ability against southpaws because they are just 5-9 against them so far this season.
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (.294) - The Dodgers aren't nearly as effective now that Manny Ramirez is serving his steroid suspension so I suspect this number will recede. However, they are 4-2 in their five games against a lefty since Manny went AWOL so this situation is worth monitoring.
7. Texas Rangers (.291) - Texas is another team that has seen a dip in their average over the last few weeks but they are still doing a lot of damage to left-handed pitching. The tremendous benefit of this for the Rangers is that each of the other three teams in the West has at least two lefties in their rotation.
8. Cleveland Indians (.288) - Cleveland was terrible to start the year against left-handed pitching but have really picked it up as of late. Also, while they continue to stumble and bumble their way to last place in their division the team is an outstanding 9-2 against the total against lefties this year.
9. Atlanta Braves (.282) - For as much flack as he has taken over the last two seasons, Jeff Franceour is the key player in this equation. He is hitting nearly .400 this year against southpaws and joins Chipper Jones and Matt Diaz as players in the heart of the Braves order that eat up lefties.
10. Los Angeles Angels (.282) - Just wait until Vlad Guerrero comes back. The Angels have been one of the best bets in the Majors against lefties over the last two seasons. They were an amazing 32-12 against them in 2008 and have started out this year profitable at 5-4. Once their own pitching gets sorted out they will go right back to being an auto play.
For a full list of the worst teams against left-handed pitching check out Doc's Sports Blog.
For more information on Ferringo's baseball picks, check out his Insider's Page here.