The title should be pretty clear for what follows. Basically, we use the model that I created that regresses platoon splits for batters. We then twerk this split around the Steamer Rest of Season wOBA projection to get an idea of how each batter would fare against the average pitcher of each handedness. I’ve included the guts here so that you can see the sample sizes and the difference between the observed split and the regressed split. First let’s look at versus right-handed pitchers:
The current MLB-wide average wOBA is at .313 and it should be noted that Wil Myers is essentially all regression. The more career PAs a batter has the less his split needs to be regressed blahblahblah. Longo is clearly our best hitter against righties at a .371 wOBA and he’s follows by Joyce (.357), Zobrist (.344), Scott (.328), and Loney (.327) as all above average options. If Wil Myers has the normal split for a righty, and there’s not much in his minor league history to say he’ll have a wide split, then you’d expect him to be around league average against same-handers. Not bad for a 22 year old. The rest of the guys are (well) below average with Jose Molina being the worst option, though Sam Fuld is no slouch when it comes to sucking at the plate. Let’s look at vs. left-handers:
Against lefties is where we really see Longo distance himself with a nearly .400 wOBA against opposite-handed pitchers. By now you should have a clear idea of why the offense goes in the tank whenever Longo is hurt or slumping. He’s really fucking good. Zobrist is our next best option at a respectable .353 wOBA and then we have the fully regressed Wil Myers at .333. Desmond Jennings (.330), Sean Rodriguez (.326), and Jelly Johnson (.323) are all nice options as well and Yunel Escobar comes in just slightly ahead of league average at .316. Then we have Matt Joyce and Sam Fuld representing similar options against lefties and the rest of the bunch. James Loney and Jose Molina tied for worst option against lefties with Luke Scott right there as well. Let’s compare these projections to actual to get an idea of who has over- and under-performed:
I’ve listed the Plate Appearances versus each type of pitcher and overall (blue), the Projected wOBA versus each type of pitcher and overall (yellow), the Actual wOBA versus each type of pitcher and overall (red) and finally the difference between runs projected and actual runs by handedness and overall (orange).
Going by this the player that has played the most over his head has been James Loney and it’s mostly on the back of what he has done against lefties. Kelly Johnson and Matt Joyce are pretty close together and each has out-performed expectations against righties while under-performing against lefties. Jose Lobaton is another guy that has played well above projections and it has come in equal doses against both lefties and righties. On the other end Sam Fuld has been so bad against righties that it completely offsets how well he has unsustainably hit lefties so far, and then some. Yunel Escobar has also offset some garnered good will against opposite-handed pitchers by drastically under-performing against righties and Ben Zobrist is right there with him, overall, though his issue have been completely related to how he has (not) hit lefties.
Overall the Rays have actually been right where you would expect against right-handed pitchers. Above-average, but not crazily so. However, what projects as a slightly better lineup against lefties has drastically hit over it’s head. While James Loney should basically offset Ben Zobrist, though I doubt the former gets the at bats to do so, we should still expect reasonably strong regression from Sam Fuld, Desmond Jennings, Jose Lobaton, Jose Molina, and Yunel Escobar. Two of those guys play every day so unlike Loney, they will get the plate appearances that should have them coming back down to projections a bit.
The Rays have featured a strong offense so far, but it’s one that has played a bit above it’s head. Perhaps they’ve faced an inordinate amount of poor pitching or it’s just a case of a few guys getting hot at the same time, but I would not expect that to continue against lefties as well as it has gone so far. It is encouraging to see that they’ve basically done as well as you would expect against righties and of course it’s great to see that Evan Longoria’s tremendous season is exactly right where you would expect. Ultimately, this offense will follow his lead so it’s nice to see that what he has done thus far appears to be sustainable and within reason.