Lefty curse is over: Long live the curse

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw

Seemingly without warning, the 33-year curse that has afflicted left-handed starting pitching in the I-75 League is no more.

All of a sudden, clubs are having trouble beating southpaws. Witness the fact that 10 of our 15 teams have losing records against lefties after 100 games:

* 6-21 (.222): Chatfield
* 7-23 (.233): English
* 5-13 (.278): Springfield
* 8-21 (.381): Iowa

Cole  Hamels

Cole Hamels

* 10-16 (.384): Michigan
* 15-22 (.405): Applegate
* 11-16 (.407): Wisconsin
* 9-12 (.429): Satellite Beach
* 10-13 (.435): South Grand Prairie
* 11-13 (.458): Superior

The league as a whole has a losing record against LHPs: 162-222 (.422), while it is beating up RHPs, 588-528 (.527). This might be the first time this has happened in league history.

How did this happen? As recently as last year, lefties were struggling per usual, with  I-75 offenses going 342-307 (.527) against them, while just 858-893 (.490) against righties.

Could it be that our 15-team league (expanding out from 12) has diluted the lefty bashers to the point where southpaws can finally have realistic effectiveness?

Individual evidence:

* Of the eight pitchers in the league with 11 or more wins after 100 games, five are lefties: League leader Cole Hamels (Margaritaville) with 13, and 11-game winners David Price (Superior), Jon Niese (Bismarck), Cliff Lee (Savannah) and Clayton Kershaw (Springfield).

* The league-leader in win percentage is Wisconsin’s Mark Buehrle at 9-1. Hamels is 13-3. Niese is 11-3. Lee is 11-4, Kershaw 11-5.

M. Bumgarner

M. Bumgarner

* The league-leader in ERA is Michigan southpaw Madison Bumgarner at 2.48. Close behind is Kershaw at 3.03. Also in the top 11: Savannah’s Mike Minor at 3.10, Lee at 3.65, Niese at 3.76.

* How about a more telling stat that purely reflects the pitcher’s performance instead of his team? Something like, opponent batting average? Minor leads the league at .205. Bumgarner is at .208, Kershaw .232. That’s three of the top four in the league.

* Even fewest walks per nine innings is dominated by lefties: Lee-Buehrle-Bumgarner are 1-2-3.

What in the name of Mickey Lolich is going on here???

Lefties used to stand little chance in the league, as every basher available would be drafted and platooned with little risk of  using up their at-bat allotment. Now those sluggers are distributed more evenly, watering down the typical nine-man  lineup. That’s my theory, anyway.

What’s yours?

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5 Responses

  1. What’s crazy is how much the lefties were just shunned when I first came into the league. Reading your posts about how it was 10+ yrs ago and what I’ve seen in the league the last couple years is shocking to say the least. I never understood why it was such a taboo thing to draft a lefty, but just hearing the stories, I can imagine why. I just don’t see it though nowadays. Buehrle has been a stud this year….I just wish Weaver could get his head out of his you know what! 🙂
    And SteveB, if I only had his ability! 😉 We’d all play strat from the confines of a ballpark every night!

  2. Three thoughts:
    1. I think that mostly 5-man rotations and longer bullpens squeeze the bench more these days, allowing less room for playing platoons at every position. Most teams have only 13 or 14 position players.
    2. More teams are focusing on long-term team building strategies, leaving less room to draft for the standard one-year draft-and-cut Lefty mashers.
    3. Strat is tempering the super-bloated, lefty masher cards now, so that there are fewer, and not a juiced as back 10+ years ago. Alas, we may never see another 1979 Ellis Valentine-esque card again!

    • I believe the just aren’t 75 RHS worthy of roster spots anymore…be it either quality or innings allotment. I remember a handful of I-75 managers who would cringe at the thought of even having a LHR on their squad(s). Love the photo inserts Gary….very professional. Does anyone see any resemblance between Cole Hamels and Dan Wilson?…or Madison Bumgarner and a youthful Steve Hart?

  3. I have also noticed this trend this year and am at a loss to explain it. The Gophers have two lefty starters, each with a great W-L. Recently traded Matt Harrison took an 8-1 record and 6.50 ERA to Savannah, and we still have Andy Pettitte (4-1 with a much lower ERA in eight starts). I tried to avoid using these lefties vs. the real lefty-mashers, and Harrison benefited from extraordinary run support, but in truth I may have to relax my strict anti-lefty bias if this trend continues.

  4. A big exception appears to bad the bad luck of Satellite Beach whom brings 4 lefties to start. With the lone exception being Bartolo Colon, 6-1, 3.18 era. The 3 decent other lefties have been blasted: Jason Vargas, 8-9, 6.25, CC Sabathia, 6-9, 6.12, and Paul Maholm, 4-5, 6.98.

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