Can’t anyone here hit right-handed pitching?

But there is one glaring, annoying, hole in this team: There’s no one available to DH that hits right-handed pitching all that well. The Yankees have three guys in the mix at DH right now, Jorge Posada, Eric Chavez, and Andruw Jones, and all of the have their issues. You certainly know about Posada already, so we won’t dwell on that anymore. Chavez started out the season doing quite well at the plate, hitting .303/.410/.424 when he hit the disabled list in early May, but that has proven to be unsustainable, and right now he’s hitting just .275/.336/.367. And while Andruw Jones has been a pleasant surprise since I was ready to run him out of town, he’s also been a true platoon player, and has a wOBA of just .316 against right-handed pitchers (compared to .399 against southpaws).

Now, on some level this is pretty much the definition of a first world problem. The Yankees as a team have one of the best offenses in baseball, currently sitting atop the American League in both wOBA and wRC+, just a touch ahead of the Red Sox. Still, hitting is basically the only thing you ask a DH to do, so it’s not exactly a good thing to not have a single above average option against most of the pitchers in the league.

So what can be done about it? Well, not much. A trade isn’t happening today, I wouldn’t imagine, and after today any new addition wouldn’t be eligible for the playoffs anyway. I’m a little bit miffed as to why the Yankees didn’t place a claim on Lance Berkman when the Cardinals tried to pass him through waivers, considering he’s been one of the best hitters in baseball this year, and would have been an awfully good addition for this team.

But that ship has sailed now, so the only real option is Jesus Montero. The Yankees’ top prospect has been hot of late, bringing his season line up to .288/.348/.467, and should be getting a call soon after rosters expand. Once he’s in the Bronx, he should get plenty of chances to hit, if for no other reason than to see what he can do at the next level and let him get a feel for big league pitching. Considering the low baseline the other options present, there’s a good chance Montero could hit well enough to be a legitimate upgrade for this team better in October.

11 thoughts on “Can’t anyone here hit right-handed pitching?

  1. LarryAtIIATMS

    You predict that Montero will be called up, and seemingly instantaneously, it happens! (see post below this one) If only you'd called for this earlier this season.

    (jk)

  2. hugh

    I've not heard "first world problem" before. I like it very much and it fits the context perfectly. Thank you for educating me.

    • BrienJackson

      You've never heard of the first world problems meme before? That in itself is a pretty awesome first world problem.

  3. Enigma

    I don't understand with regard to Jorge why "we won't not dwell on that anymore." Posada got off to a dismal start to the season, especially hitting against lefties, but splits reveal two things; (1) he has hit right-handed pitching well (in line with career norms) and (2) since June 1 he has hit overall close to his career norms. This post is titled, "Can't anyone here hit right-handed pitching?" Guess what Jorge can hit right-handed pitching, though his stats are omitted from the above post. His split slash stats against right-handed pitching are .272/.348/.465/.813. http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/sta
    These are better than Texiera or Swisher and league averages against right-handed pitching.
    Overall, since June 1 his slash stats are .292/.338/.444/.782.
    What happened to Posada is he stopped being able to hit left-handed pitching. I understand that Posada is nearing the end and hasn't had the best year, but given the title of this post I think it is a little negligent to not even look at the split stats.
    I hope Montero does wonderful, but his split against right-handed pitchers in the minors this year is .273/.330/.398/.728. http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/milb/stats/sta
    That is below Posada's. Expecting Montero to significantly improve on that breaking into the majors is not likely.

    • jay_robertson

      Posada has fallen off the edge of the world, even against right handers….didn't you watch last night's game? (and many before?) Against the same pitcher Swish went 2-2 against and Cervelli HOMERED against, Jorge was once again, 0-3. Hitting into two inning ending double plays. Against a right handed pitcher.

      As Brien pointed out, even as a purely platoon hitter, he is still below average as a DH. Girardi isn't sitting him just out of spite; sadly, Chavez hasn't proven to be markedly better. Right now, Nunez would be the best bet as DH, but he's busy filling in for A-Rod and Jeter.

      • Enigma

        Last night was horrible. I did watch last night and nearly every game this year. However last night was one game. The stats are just not there to indicate your point, that Jorge has fallen off the edge of the world against right handed pitching. Jorge's OPS+ against right-handed pitching is 118, which indicates he is well better than league average. Nunez's slash line against right-handed pitching is .266/.322/.354/.676, good for an OPS+ of 97, below league average and well below Posada's.

        Additionally, I have to say that Brien did not point out that Posada was below average even as a purely platoon hitter. He didn't analyze Posada's stats at all.

  4. Enigma

    Sorry posted the link to Montero's stat's in both places. Here is Posada's splits: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.c

  5. jay_robertson

    Brien (or Larry – I'm easy) – if Montero comes up tomorrow, is he still eligible to play in the playoffs?

    • BrienJackson

      Technically no, you have to be on the major league roster or disabled list as of 11:59 P.M. August 1st, but really because of the rules about injury substitutions for the playoffs, anyone in the organization before September 1st can be put on the postseason roster.

      • jay_robertson

        Thanks – I was a bit confused – thought they had to be on roster, but every article was blathering about him "helping in the playoffs."

        Appreciate the clarification. Now all he has to do is get hot. ;D

  6. Hank

    The other issue with right handed pitching is Tex.

    Tex is hitting .303 against lefties with a .960 OPS and uses the whole field .. and fits in the #3 spot in the order (or 4 if you have Gardner lead off)

    Against righties Tex is hitting .222 with a .798 OPS and SHOULD NOT BE HITTING 3rd! The other problem is not just the average and OPS but the hitting style and quality:
    - 4 hits all year to LF (four!)
    - An OPS under .300 when hitting balls to LF (as a lefty hitter), even to center it's something like .660… which means the only balls he hits hard as a lefty are to right field. A good pitcher will exploit this, while he racks up some counting stats against weaker pitchers or times when he gets ahead in the count and can sit on something.
    - His IFFB rate is something like 33% on balls hit to LF when batting left handed (that's % of flyballs not every ball hit). This is important as these are outs with no chance of moving a runner or getting one home from 3rd…. this to me is reads like a guy who is trying to pull every pitch regardless of location and this is what happens when you try to pull pitches on the outside corner (it's either that or a groundout).

    His ability to hit left handed to left field is something that has steadily declined over the last 3-4years and is something that will probably be exploited more and more as time goes by. While I know lineup changes aren't that big a difference, I'd like to see him hitting behind Swisher against righties (and either bat Gardner leadoff/Granderson 3rd or keep Gardner at the bottom of the order and jump Cano up to the 3rd spot vs righties)

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