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The "Lefty-Righty" Question

Looking at the A's lineup, you see a middle of the lineup heavy on left-handed hitters (Kotsay, Chavez, D. Johnson) and a hitter (Swisher) whose major league numbers have been far better against RHP. This would lead you to believe the A's need a right-handed bat, more than a left-handed bat, in the middle of the order.

On the other hand, looking at the 2005 stats you see a team that produced much better numbers against left-handed pitching (.271 AVG and .346 OBP) than against right-handed pitching (.259 AVG and .324 OBP). This would lead you to believe the A's need a left-handed bat, more than a right-handed bat, in the middle of the order.

Aaack! Does not compute! Help!!! <runs screaming in three directions at once, throws chair> In trying to sort out this apparent contradiction, let me suggest one possibility I haven't really heard much on AN: Perhaps the A's success vs. LHP in 2005 was somewhat of an anomaly. For example...

  • Perhaps the A's faced a relatively high percentage of their lefty opponents during the stretch when they were beating everyone, and faced a relatively high percentage of their righty opponents during the stretches when they were beating no one.
  • Perhaps a couple hitters hit LHP significantly better than they will most seasons in their career.
  • Perhaps their excellent winning percentage against lefty starters was bolstered by a handful of pitchers they "own"--Mark Buehrle leaps to mind, and to some extent Sabathia.
  • Perhaps the A's simply had more well-pitched games on days they faced a lefty starter than on days they faced a righty starter, and produced a superior W-L record against lefty starters for some reasons independent of their hitters.
Key additions notwithstanding, for any combination of these possible reasons, I would kind of expect the A's to be a little weaker in 2006 against LHP and a little stronger in 2006 against RHP. The presumption seems to be that, "the current lineup is better equipped against LHP than it is against RHP." My point is: I'm not sure this is necessarily true.