Left-handed specialist

Last updated
Jesse Orosco, who became a left handed specialist later in his career, pitched until the age of 46. Jesse orosco.jpg
Jesse Orosco, who became a left handed specialist later in his career, pitched until the age of 46.

In baseball, a left-handed specialist (also known as lefty specialist) is a relief pitcher who throws left-handed and specializes in pitching to left-handed batters, weak right-handed batters, and switch-hitters who bat poorly right-handed. [1] Because baseball practices permanent substitution, these pitchers frequently pitch to a very small number of batters in any given game (often only one), and rarely pitch to strictly right-handed batters. Most Major League Baseball (MLB) teams have several left-handed pitchers on their rosters, at least one of whom is a left-handed specialist. A left-handed specialist is sometimes called a LOOGY (or Lefty One-Out GuY), coined by John Sickels, and may be used pejoratively. [2] [3]

Contents

Pitching style

The pitcher generally has an advantage when his handedness is the same as the batter's, and the batter has an advantage when they are opposite. [4] This is because a right-handed pitcher's breaking balls move to the left from the pitcher's perspective, which causes it to cross the plate with its lateral movement away from a right-handed batter but towards a left-handed batter (and vice versa for a left-handed pitcher), and because batters generally find it easier to hit a ball that is over the plate. Furthermore, since most pitchers are right-handed, left-handed batters generally have less experience with left-handed pitchers. A left-handed pitcher may also be brought in to face a switch-hitter who generally bats left-handed, forcing the batter to shift to his less-effective right-handed stance or to take the disadvantages of batting left-handed against a left-handed pitcher. Research from 2011-2013 has shown that a pinch hitter (usually right-handed) is often used when a left-handed reliever is inserted in the game, thereby reducing or negating the pitcher's platoon split advantage. Only a handful of left-handed relievers face a higher percentage of left-handed batters than right-handed batters over the course of a season. [5]

History

In the 1991 MLB season, there were 28 left-handed relievers who were not their team's closer and pitched 45 or more games. Only four averaged fewer than an inning per appearance. From 2001 to 2004, over 75 percent of left handed relievers meeting those criteria averaged less than one inning. Left-handed reliever John Candelaria was one of the early specialists in 1991, pitching 59 games and averaged .571 innings. In 1992, he allowed no earned runs—excluding inherited runners—in 43 of the 50 games. Jesse Orosco became a left-handed specialist later in his 24-season career and retired at the age of 46. From 1991 to 2003, he never averaged more than an inning pitched per appearance. [6]

During the 2013 MLB season, there were seven relief pitchers who averaged less than two outs recorded per appearance, all of whom were left-handed. [7] Joe Thatcher, a left-handed specialist, appeared in 72 games with 39.2 innings pitched, and had the fewest outs recorded per appearance with 1.6. [8] [9] [10] [11]

Mike Myers is considered one of the most successful LOOGY pitcher of all time, having made 883 appearances for nine different teams over the span of a 13 year career. During that time, he threw 541.2 innings. Recognizing the limited skill and playing time of pitchers in the role, Myers has said "We were like the field goal kicker, but only when the kicker was called in when the game was on the line. It was their best against you, every time, and you couldn't mess up." [12] German-born Will Ohman discovered his talent by accident while playing catch as a walk-on player for Pepperdine University when he tried a different slider grip and noticed an extreme break on the ball. He went on to pitch in 483 major league games over 10 seasons. Explaining the precarious nature of the position, Ohman said, "I was the last guy on the roster in every clubhouse I was in. You do your job and other people get the glory." [12]

Future

Since the start of the 2020 season all pitchers, whether starters or relievers, have been required to face at least three batters, or pitch to the end of the half-inning in which they enter the game. Exceptions are allowed only for incapacitating injury or illness while pitching. According to MLB.com journalist Anthony Castrovince, "This will effectively end the so-called "LOOGY" (left-handed one-out guy) and other specialist roles in which pitchers are brought in for one very specific matchup." [13]

Right-handed specialist

The right-handed specialist (sometimes called a ROOGY, for Righty One-Out GuY) is the less common vice versa contrast to the left-handed specialist, due to there being a higher percentage of right-handed batters and pitchers in Major League Baseball, [14] but they are occasionally featured. [15] [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

In baseball statistics, walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) is a sabermetric measurement of the number of baserunners a pitcher has allowed per inning pitched. WHIP is calculated by adding the number of walks and hits allowed and dividing this sum by the number of innings pitched.

Relief pitcher A baseball or softball pitcher that enters a game to pitch after a starting pitcher

In baseball and softball, a relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to fatigue, ineffectiveness, injury, ejection, or for other strategic reasons, such as inclement weather delays or pinch hitter substitutions. Relief pitchers are further divided informally into various roles, such as closers, setup men, middle relief pitchers, left/right-handed specialists, and long relievers. Whereas starting pitchers usually rest several days before pitching in a game again due to the number of pitches thrown, relief pitchers are expected to be more flexible and typically pitch in more games with a shorter time period between pitching appearances but with fewer innings pitched per appearance. A team's staff of relievers is normally referred to metonymically as a team's bullpen, which refers to the area where the relievers sit during games, and where they warm-up prior to entering the game.

Jeff Nelson (pitcher) American baseball pitcher

Jeffrey Allan Nelson is an American former baseball relief pitcher and current broadcaster who played 15 years in Major League Baseball (MLB). He batted and threw right-handed. Nelson retired on January 12, 2007, the same day he signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Steve Kline (left-handed pitcher)</span> American baseball player

Steven James Kline is an American college baseball coach for the IUP Crimson Hawks. He is also a former professional relief pitcher who pitched for the Cleveland Indians, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, and San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB) over an 11-year career. Kline attended West Virginia University, where he played college baseball for the Mountaineers.

Jesse Orosco American baseball player

Jesse Russell Orosco is a Mexican American former relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who holds the major league record for career pitching appearances, having pitched in 1,252 games. He pitched most notably for the New York Mets in the 1980s and made the NL All-Star team in 1983 and 1984. He won a World Series in 1986 with the Mets and in 1988 with the Dodgers. He threw left-handed, but batted right-handed. He retired in 2003 after having been with the Mets, Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins. He retired when he was 46 years old, one of the oldest players to still be playing in the modern age. Orosco is one of only 29 players in baseball history to date to have appeared in Major League games in four decades.

Chad Bradford American baseball player

Chadwick Lee Bradford is an American former professional relief pitcher. He was well known for his extreme submarine-style pitching, and his success in Major League Baseball (MLB) despite his unconventional delivery and the slow speed at which he threw the ball. This led to him figuring prominently in the Michael Lewis book Moneyball, which in 2011 was made into the film of the same title. Bradford is played by actor Casey Bond in the film.

In baseball, the left right switch is a maneuver by which a player that struggles against left- or right-handed players is replaced by a player who excels in the situation, usually only for the duration of the situation in question. For instance, a right-handed pitcher who is weak against left-handed hitting and is facing a left-handed hitter would be replaced with a pitcher, usually left-handed, who does a superior job of getting a left-handed hitter out. Similarly, a batter who has difficulty hitting against a left-handed pitcher will sometimes be pinch hit for by a batter who does well, even if the original player is superior in other respects.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ron Villone</span> American baseball player

Ronald Thomas Villone, Jr. is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) left-handed relief pitcher and current minor league coach. Villone played for 12 teams in his career, tied for 3rd all time with pitcher Mike Morgan and outfielder Matt Stairs, and trailing only Octavio Dotel and Edwin Jackson.

John Grabow American baseball player

John William Grabow, nicknamed "Grabes" is an American former professional baseball left-handed reliever. He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs of the Major League Baseball (MLB).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Randy Choate</span> American baseball player

Randol Doyle Choate is an American former professional baseball pitcher. The New York Yankees selected him in the 1997 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft from Florida State University. Choate made his MLB debut for the Yankees in 2000, and also pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Rays, Florida/Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and St. Louis Cardinals. He won the 2000 World Series with the Yankees, beating the New York Mets.

Rafael Pérez (baseball) Dominican baseball player

Rafael Jerome Pérez is a Dominican left-handed professional baseball relief pitcher who is currently a free agent. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians as an undrafted free agent in January 2002 and played with them through 2012. He lives in Freeport, New York, on Long Island.

Craig Breslow American baseball player

Craig Andrew Breslow is an American baseball executive serving as the Assistant General Manager/Vice President, Director of Pitching for the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball (MLB), and a former professional baseball pitcher. He played in MLB for the San Diego Padres, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Miami Marlins.

Kevin Hart (baseball) American baseball player

Kevin Richard Hart is a former professional baseball pitcher who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. As of 2016, he is a Major League Professional Scout for the New York Yankees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jake Diekman</span> American baseball player (born 1987)

Jacob Tanner Diekman, is an American professional baseball pitcher for the Chicago White Sox of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has previously played in MLB for the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, and Boston Red Sox.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Josh Hader</span> American baseball pitcher (born 1994)

Joshua Ronald Hader is an American professional baseball pitcher for the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has previously played in MLB for the Milwaukee Brewers. Hader is a four-time All-Star and three-time winner of the National League Reliever of the Year Award.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chad Green (pitcher)</span> American baseball pitcher (born 1991)

Chad Keith Green is an American professional baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball (MLB). He made his MLB debut with the Yankees in 2016 as a starting pitcher, and became a relief pitcher in 2017.

Opener (baseball) Pitching role in baseball

In baseball, an opening pitcher, more frequently referred to as an opener, is a pitcher who specializes in getting the first outs in a game, before being replaced by a long reliever or a pitcher who would typically be a starting pitcher. Pitchers employed in the role of opener have usually been relief pitchers by trade. The strategy was frequently employed in Major League Baseball (MLB) by the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2018 season, when it was adopted by other teams as well.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2022 New York Mets season</span> Major League Baseball season

The 2022 season is the New York Mets' 61st season in Major League Baseball, their 14th at Citi Field, and their second under majority owner Steve Cohen.

References

  1. Zimniuch, Fran (2010). Fireman: The Evolution of the Closer in Baseball. Chicago: Triumph Books. p.  168. ISBN   978-1-60078-312-8.
  2. "Checking the Numbers". Baseball Prospectus. 8 May 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2011.
  3. "Glossary". Baseball Prospectus. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  4. "The advantage of batting left-handed". Hardballtimes.com. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  5. "How often do LOOGYs get matchup edge?". 17 December 2013.
  6. Darby, William (2006). Deconstructing Major League Baseball, 1991–2004: how statistics illuminate individual and team performances. McFarland. pp. 23–32. ISBN   978-0-7864-2537-2 . Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  7. "2013 Major League Baseball Relief Pitching".
  8. "Thatcher the lefty specialist D-backs envisioned".
  9. "Help Center - the Arizona Republic".
  10. http://indianasportsjournal.com/2013/07/31/kokomos-joe-thatcher-traded-from-san-diego-padres-to-arizona-diamondbacks/
  11. "Thatcher the lefty specialist D-backs envisioned | dbacks.com: News". Archived from the original on 2014-02-21.
  12. 1 2 Sanchez, Robert (April 2020). "Hocked Loogy". Sports Illustrated. 131 (4): 15–17. Retrieved 10 April 2020.
  13. Castrovince, Anthony (March 14, 2019). "Rule changes coming this year and next". MLB.com. Retrieved July 6, 2019.
  14. "Why being a lefty matters in baseball". MLB.com. Retrieved 2022-03-21.
  15. Scouting Lingo | Phuture Phillies
  16. The LOOGY