But there’s still the question of why a pitcher’s handedness actually matters. The answer is what, in baseball, are called “platoon splits.” “Platoon splits” refers to a fundamental fact about baseball: Righty hitters do better against lefty pitchers, and lefty hitters do better against righty pitchers.
Traditionally, left-handed pitchers have an advantage over right-handed pitchers simply because most batters have not faced as many left-handed throwers in their lifetime to adequately adjust to seeing the pitches coming out of a left hand.
Around 35% of all 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) batters were left-handed, compared to 10% left-handers in the general population.
A catcher and shortstop’s mobility is limited by being left-handed. While a right-handed thrower will naturally be in the position to get the ball where it needs to be, a left-handed thrower’s awkward range of motion and form adds precious milliseconds to a play in a game where every tiny thing counts.
“Just look at the numbers. While only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, 25 percent of major leaguers are. Of the 61 pitchers enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, 13 are left-handed, or 21 percent, more than twice that in the general population.
From 2007 to 2019, left-handers registered a substantially lower velocity for every type of pitch tracked, including not only higher-velocity pitches like fastballs and sinkers, but also sliders, changeups and curves. Southpaws were much less likely than RHPs to average 93 mph or more on their fastball (27 percent vs.
The complete list of left-handed third basemen in MLB history: Anthony Rizzo, Mario Valdez, Don Mattingly, Terry Francona, Mike Squires (14 times), Charlie Grimm, and George Sisler.
Supposedly, late 19th-century ballparks were laid out so that the pitcher looked in a westerly direction when facing the batter. The throwing arm of a left-handed pitcher would then be to the south-hence the name southpaw.
Researchers have identified, for the first time, the genetic differences between right-handed and left-handed people. In left-handed people, both sides of the brain tend to communicate more effectively. This means that left-handed people may have superior language and verbal ability.
But righty pitchers have gone from … 17% in 2002 to just over 23% in 2019.
Lefties are ideal for first base because with their glove on their right hand, it makes it easy for them to turn to the base with their glove facing the field. Right-handed first basemen have to take a few extra steps to turn their bodies, which is a disadvantage for them compared to lefties.
Left-handed throwers actually have an advantage playing first base because the only difficult throws that the first baseman usually makes are to third or second base in an attempt to force out a baserunner.
The direction of lefties’ bat swing throws their momentum toward first base, helping them to run there quicker. There often are larger gaps on the right side of the field, where left-handed batters are more likely to hit the ball.
You are right on that lefties should not play baseball shortstop or 3rd base. The only positions lefty baseball players should play are pitcher, firstbase and outfield positions.
In addition, second basemen are usually right-handed; only four left-handed throwing players have ever played second base in Major League Baseball since 1950. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the second baseman is assigned the number 4.
Players who take a lot of heat, like catchers and infielders, often like to keep their index finger on the outside of the glove. It gives an extra layer of protection between the ball and their finger - which would sit inside the glove right at the spot where the ball most often makes contact.
The last left-handed catcher to play in the big leagues was Benny Distefano, who caught three games for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1989. Before Distefano, there had only been a handful: Jack Clements, Dale Long and Mike Squires to name a few. Why so few lefties behind the dish?
Why? A lefty’s curveball can be a nasty pitch against right-handers, but it can also throw lefties off too. The curve can head straight for the batter then break at the last second, causing the hitter to instinctively back off. Left-handed hitters can have a particularly hard time with lefty pitchers throwing sidearm.
First base is the only position where having a left-handed player is preferred. The left-handed first baseman’s glove is on his right hand and that puts him closer to the fielders when a ball is thrown. It also gives him a better angle when it comes to stretching for the ball and picking up errant throws in the dirt.
While right-handed throwers can be found at any of the nine positions on a baseball field, left-handers are, in practice, restricted to five of them. You won’t find a lefty at catcher, second base, shortstop or third base.
The favorable angles lefties allow them to throw the ball more quickly across the diamond to second, third and home. Just being different: “Because only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, kids grow up and mature in baseball seeing a left-hander just 10 percent of the time they bat,” he points out.
Left-handedness occurs in about 8% of the human population. It runs in families and an adoption study suggests a genetic rather than an environmental origin; however, monozygotic twins show substantial discordance.
Right-handers do throw much harder than left-handers, as major league pitchers. The reason is that, in a counter-clockwise game, being left-handed is a significant advantage.