Switch hitter

Last updated
Jose Reyes on September 23, 2012 (cropped).jpg
Jose Reyes on August 10, 2015.jpg
José Reyes, a switch hitter, batting left-handed (at left, in 2012) and right-handed (at right, 2015).

In baseball, a switch hitter is a player who bats both right-handed and left-handed, usually right-handed against left-handed pitchers and left-handed against right-handed pitchers, although there are some exceptions.[ citation needed ]



Right-handed batters generally hit better against left-handed pitchers and vice versa. Most curveballs break away from batters hitting from the same side as the opposing pitcher, making them harder to hit with the barrel (or "sweet spot") of the bat. Additionally, the pitcher's release is farther from the batter's center of vision. In switch-pitcher Pat Venditte's words, "If I'm pitching right-handed and they're hitting right-handed, it's tougher for them to see. And then, your breaking pitches are going away from their barrel rather than into their barrel." [1] Even so, many switch-hitters perform better from one side of the plate than the other.

Numerous switch-hitters have achieved a higher batting average on one side of the plate but hit with more power from the other. For instance, New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle always considered himself a better right-handed hitter, but hit home runs at a higher rate from the left side of the plate. [2] However, many of Mantle's left-handed home runs were struck at Yankee Stadium, a park notorious for being very friendly to left-handed power hitters due to its short right field porch, and Mantle batted left-handed much more often than right-handed, simply because there have always been more right-handed than left-handed pitchers. Mantle's longest home run, a 565-foot clout in 1953 at Washington's Griffith Stadium, came batting right-handed.

Most switch-hitters have been right-handed throwers, but there have been several notable switch-hitters who threw left-handed, including Cool Papa Bell, Lance Berkman, Dave Collins, Doug Dascenzo, Mitch Webster, Wes Parker, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Justin Smoak, David Segui, Dylan Carlson (baseball), Daniel Nava, and J. T. Snow (who, in the final years of his career, hit exclusively left-handed). As of the 2018 season, there were 48 active switch-hitters on MLB rosters. Five of the league's 30 teams did not have a switch hitter on their roster in 2018. [3]

Joaquín Andújar sometimes hit right-handed against lefties, sometimes left-handed. Tomo Ohka batted left-handed against right-handed pitchers in three games in 2006, but otherwise batted exclusively right-handed. Left-handed reliever Steve Kline was primarily a switch hitter, but batted right-handed against right-handed pitchers several times throughout his career. [4]

Management also had a say in the switch-hitting careers of Bob Gibson and Dwight Gooden. Both Gibson and Gooden—each right-handed, and a fine hitting pitcher—had reached the major leagues as a switch-hitter, but both their teams required them to bat only right-handed to reduce the possibility of their pitching arms being hit by a pitch.


The first switch-hitter in baseball history was Bob Ferguson. His switch-hitting was different that of today's baseball game, as he switched sides simply based on his feeling at a particular moment or certain situational reasons (such as an elite fielder on one side of the diamond). Ferguson took a notable at-bat in 1870, where he walked off the game while batting from the left side, when he had typically batted right-handed. [5]

Switch hitters were not productive in the dead-ball era or the early live-ball era. Since the advent of the live-ball era, switch hitters have served to produce a high on-base percentage. [6]

Switch pitchers

Switch-hitting pitchers are relatively rare. They include Mordecai Brown, Norm Charlton, [7] Marvin Rotblatt, Sid Monge, Johnny Vander Meer, J.C. Romero, Kyle Snyder, Wandy Rodriguez, Troy Patton, Tim Dillard, Tyler Johnson, Carlos Zambrano, Dock Ellis, Vida Blue, Anthony Claggett, Kris Medlen, Justin De Fratus, Drew Storen, Kenley Jansen, Derek Holland, Turk Wendell, Pat Neshek, Adam Ottavino, Ken Waldichuk, and Dylan Bundy.

Pat Venditte, who played college baseball for the Creighton Bluejays, regularly pitched with both arms. [8] Venditte, drafted by the New York Yankees in 2008, was called up to the Oakland Athletics' major-league roster in 2015. [9] When he opposed switch-hitter Ralph Henriquez while in the minor leagues, Venditte switched his modified glove to his left arm. Henriquez then switched to batting left-handed, and a series of changes continued for several minutes. This prompted the PBUC (Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation) to issue rules about switch-pitching: switch-pitchers must choose which way they will begin pitching before they start. Then, batters will select the side of home plate from which they will hit. The batter and the pitcher are each allowed one switch during the plate appearance, after the first pitch is thrown. [10]

Notable switch hitters

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mickey Mantle</span> American baseball player (1931–1995)

Mickey Charles Mantle, nicknamed "the Mick" and "the Commerce Comet", was an American professional baseball player. Mantle played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career (1951–1968) with the New York Yankees, primarily as a center fielder. Mantle is regarded by many as being one of the best players and sluggers of all time. He was an American League (AL) Most Valuable Player three times and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mickey Cochrane</span> American baseball player and manager (1903-1962)

Gordon Stanley "Mickey" Cochrane, nicknamed "Black Mike", was an American professional baseball player, manager and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers. Cochrane was considered one of the best catchers in baseball history and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. In his first season as manager, he led the Tigers to 101 wins, which was the most for a rookie manager for 27 years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Warren Spahn</span> American baseball player (1921–2003)

Warren Edward Spahn was an American professional baseball pitcher who played 21 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). A left-handed pitcher, Spahn played in 1942 and then from 1946 until 1965, most notably for the Boston Braves, who became the Milwaukee Braves after the team moved west before the 1953 season. His baseball career was interrupted by his military service in the United States Army during World War II.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Randy Johnson</span> American baseball player (born 1963)

Randall David Johnson, nicknamed "the Big Unit", is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball (1988–2009) for six teams, primarily the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catcher</span> Defensive position in baseball and softball played behind home plate, facing the field

Catcher is a position in baseball and softball. When a batter takes their turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the (home) umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. In addition to this primary duty, the catcher is also called upon to master many other skills in order to field the position well. The role of the catcher is similar to that of the wicket-keeper in cricket.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Whitey Ford</span> American baseball player (1928–2020)

Edward Charles "Whitey" Ford, nicknamed "the Chairman of the Board", was an American professional baseball pitcher who played his entire 16-year Major League Baseball (MLB) career with the New York Yankees. He was a 10-time All-Star and six-time World Series champion. In 1961, he won both the Cy Young Award and World Series Most Valuable Player Award. Ford led the American League (AL) in wins three times and in earned run average twice. He is the Yankees franchise leader in career wins (236), shutouts (45), innings pitched, and games started by a pitcher. Ford was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Left-handed specialist</span> Pitching role in baseball

In baseball, a left-handed 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. Because baseball practices permanent substitution, these pitchers frequently pitch to a very small number of batters in any given game, 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, coined by John Sickels, and may be used pejoratively.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cut fastball</span> Baseball pitch

In baseball, a cut fastball or cutter is a type of fastball that breaks toward the pitcher's glove-hand side, as it reaches home plate. This pitch is somewhere between a slider and a four-seam fastball, as it is usually thrown faster than a slider but with more movement than a typical fastball. Some pitchers use a cutter to prevent hitters from expecting their regular fastballs. A common technique for throwing a cutter is to use a four-seam fastball grip with the baseball set slightly off center in the hand. A batter hitting a cutter pitch often achieves only soft contact and an easy out due to the pitch's movement keeping the ball away from the bat's sweet spot. The cutter is typically 2–5 mph slower than a pitcher's four-seam fastball. In 2010, the average pitch classified as a cutter by PITCHf/x thrown by a right-handed pitcher was 88.6 mph; the average two-seamer was 90.97 mph.

The 1958 World Series was the championship series in Major League Baseball for the 1958 season. The 55th edition of the World Series, it matched the American League champion New York Yankees and the National League champion Milwaukee Braves. In a reversal from 1957, the Yankees defeated the Braves in seven games to win their 18th title, and their seventh in 10 years. With that victory, the Yankees became only the second team in Major League Baseball history to come back from a 3–1 deficit to win a best-of-seven World Series; the first was the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. These teams would meet again in the fall classic 38 years later—by that time, the Braves had moved to Atlanta. As of 2024, this is the most recent World Series featuring the two previous Series winning teams.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chili Davis</span> Jamaican-American baseball player (born 1960)

Charles Theodore "Chili" Davis is a Jamaican-American former professional baseball player. He played as an outfielder and designated hitter from 1981 to 1999 for the San Francisco Giants (1981–1987), California Angels, Minnesota Twins (1991–1992), Kansas City Royals (1997) and New York Yankees (1998–1999). His first MLB coaching position after his playing career was with the Oakland Athletics from 2012 to 2014. He also coached for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. Davis was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed. He is the first ballplayer born in Jamaica to appear in an MLB game.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lefty-righty switch</span> Baseball maneuver

In baseball, the lefty-righty switch is a maneuver by which a player who may be at a disadvantage against an opponent of a certain handedness is replaced by a substitute who is better suited for the situation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pedro Ramos</span> Cuban baseball player

Pedro Ramos Guerra is a Cuban former professional baseball pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Washington Senators / Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and the expansion Washington Senators, all of the American League (AL), and the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Cincinnati Reds, all of the National League (NL), over the course of a 15-year career. Ramos was elected to the AL All-Star team in 1959. He led the league in losses four times, in 1958 (18), 1959 (19), 1960 (18), and 1961 (20). On April 11, 1961, in the Twins’ first game ever, Ramos was the winning pitcher, when the team defeated the Yankees, 6–0, at Yankee Stadium.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Larry Corcoran</span> American baseball player (1859–1891)

Lawrence J. Corcoran was an American pitcher in Major League Baseball. He was born in Brooklyn, New York.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greg A. Harris</span> American baseball player (born 1955)

Greg Allen Harris is an American former professional baseball pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 15 years (1981–1995), Harris pitched in 703 career games, starting 98. He pitched for the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series, which they lost to the Detroit Tigers in five games.

Pat McMahon is an American former college and professional baseball coach who currently works in the New York Yankees' organization.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">M&M Boys</span>

The "M&M Boys" were the duo of New York Yankees baseball players Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, who were teammates from 1960 to 1966. They gained prominence during the 1961 season, when Maris and Mantle, batting third and cleanup (fourth) in the Yankee lineup respectively, both challenged Babe Ruth's 34-year-old single-season record of 60 home runs. The home run lead would change hands between the two teammates numerous times throughout the summer and fueled intense scrutiny of the players by the press. Maris eventually broke the record when he hit his 61st home run on the final day of the season, while Mantle hit 54 before he was forced to pull out of the lineup in September because of an abscessed hip.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Switch pitcher</span> Baseball pitcher who can throw with both arms

In baseball, a switch-pitcher is an ambidextrous pitcher who is able to pitch with either the right or left hand from the pitcher's mound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pat Venditte</span> American baseball player (born 1985)

Patrick Michael Venditte Jr. is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, and Miami Marlins. After attending Creighton University, Venditte was drafted by the New York Yankees in 2008. He signed with the Athletics as a free agent before the 2015 season and made his MLB debut that year.

This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, along with their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1971 Major League Baseball All-Star Game</span>

The 1971 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, the 42nd edition, was played on Tuesday, July 13. The all-stars from the American League and the National League faced each other at Tiger Stadium, home of the Detroit Tigers, and the home team AL won 6–4.


  1. ESPN E:60 Pat Venditte segment, 2009 on YouTube
  2. "Mickey Mantle Obituary", Baseball Almanac. Retrieved on July 14, 2008.
  3. McCauley, Jamie. "Switch hitters not anymore frequent even in age of analytics". USA Today. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  4. "Tomo Ohka Career Batting Splits", Baseball Reference. Retrieved on November 15, 2014.
  5. admin. "Bob Ferguson – Society for American Baseball Research" . Retrieved 2023-06-05.
  6. admin. "Mantle is Baseball's Top Switch Hitter – Society for American Baseball Research" . Retrieved 2023-06-05.
  7. Stone, Larry (16 July 2006). "10 great moments in switch-hitting history". Seattle Times. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
  8. Schwarz, Alan (April 6, 2007). "Throwing batters curves before throwing a pitch". The New York Times .
  9. Snyder, Matt (June 5, 2015). "Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte coming to majors with A's". CBSSports.com . Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  10. Hill, Benjamin (July 2, 2008). "Venditte's versatility prompts new rule". Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2008-07-14.