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Why Bobby Crosby is about to start sucking again ... if he hasn't already

... or, a little story illustrating small sample size.

2008 - Bobby Crosby 30 117 18 30 8 0 2 17 12 18 0 0 .256 .326 .376

With last night's 2/5, Bobby Crosby's OPS slipped back up over .700 for the season. To .702.

That's not real good, folks.

And it promises to get worse.

Here's Crosby's OPS for the last 10 games: .827, .799, .793, .775, .788, .758, .736, .710, .692, .702.

Sense a trend there?

OK, to be fair, maybe Bobby's on a cold streak -- just as he was on a hot streak earlier in April.

But a closer look at Crosby's splits (whether you prefer the numbers sliced, diced, or mashed with a spork) indicates that, despite what looked like a promising start to the season (with Crosby appearing to be positioned closer to the plate and avoiding the sweet gooey temptation of lunging at sliders away), this isn't some more rational, calculating pod-Bobby, but the same ol' Cros we know and ... well, "loathe" is a strong word that I'll leave for others to endorse.

BABIP, LD/GB/FB%, L/R splits

Crosby's not hitting more line drives this year. He's not hitting right-handers better. He's not working more walks off of right-handers.

Basically, he's had outstanding success against a small handful of mediocre left-handed relief pitchers.

His line drive/groundball/flyball percentages (all purty pickchers courtesy of the most useful frikkin' baseball website in teh Internets) are basically in line with his career trend lines:


Basically Crosby has generated a small sample of unsustainable success against lefties. 2008 L/R OPS splits: .933 vs lefties, .616 vs. righties. For his career (and this came as a bit of a surprise to me), Crosby essentially has no platoon advantage: .710 vs lefties, .697 vs. righties. (Now, that should be qualified: if you look at his Y/Y splits, he oscillates pretty wildly, sometimes crushing lefties, sometimes crushing righties. I think this could be explained in part by his injuries -- from reducing his sample size to where fluctuations appear magnified, and from playing hurt and adjusting his approach -- but more so by the simple fact that Crosby is an inconsistent batter, both in his results and his approach.) Crosby's L/R OPS splits:


And here's Crosby's walk-rate L/R splits:


... and his BABIP L/R splits:


All those blue lines pointing way up high? Those are Bobby's 2008 success agsinst lefties.

Let's look a little more closely (albeit with far less statistical significance) at the specific left-handed starters Crosby has faced this year (2008 numbers; career numbers): Lester (1/3, 2B; 0/2); Sabathia (2/5; 3/12); Lee (0/5; 1/10); Buehrle (1/3; 2/15); Danks (0/3; 2/3); Liriano (0/0, BB; 0/1); Bedard (1/2, 2B; 2/9); Saunders (0/3; NA). Crosby's overall H/AB vs. LHSPs? 5/24. (Caveat: I generated all these numbers with a hand tally going through the A's schedule to date. Please correct me if I'm wrong with any of these.)

Hunh. That ain't so good. How'd he ...

Well, let's see. If he's 10/31 overall against lefties this year ... and 5/24 against lefty starters ... against lefty non-starters ... he's 5/7.

Takeaway: he's done most of his damage against left-handed ... relievers. Which means a lot of 1/1s, 1/2s, 2/2s. Which also means (given that few closers are left-handed, and that if Crosby were up in what the opposing manager deemed a high-leverage situation, he'd likely have been facing a right-handed reliever) that the LH relievers he has seen and pounded have been LOOGYs, middle relievers, and long men -- in other words, mostly bad pitchers who were left in to mop up, and/or guys with really bad platoon splits against right-handed batters.

What's more, eyewitness evidence clearly shows that Crosby has, over the course of the season, crept further and further away from the plate. I can't even begin to speculate on the cause of this (continental drift?), because from the games I've seen, it's not as if Crosby's been getting busted inside especially heavily. (In other words, I don't think this is a case of "the league adjusting to Crosby's adjustment": I think Bobby made an intentional offseason/spring training adjustment, went on a [perhaps coincident] tear for a week, and has since both reverted to his old stance through lack of concentration, and [perhaps not so coincidentally] regressed to his career mean performance level.)

In sum, Crosby has inflated his 2008 stats against a handful of crappy left-handed relievers. Five hits. Seven ABs.

The more Crosby plays, the more his stat line is going to fall into his career trendline. Which ain't good.

Sorry, Billy.