I oppose switch-hitting as much as I oppose batting right-handed. I discussed this with my neighbor, Tony LaRussa, a Hall of Fame MLB manager. He agreed with my batting-left-is-better article in Baseball Coaching Digest, but he said he disagrees with me regarding not leaning how to switch hit. He’s wrong and here’s why.
Higher batting average against opposite-handed pitchers
The rationale for switch-hitting stems from one statistic: Batting averages are higher against opposite handed pitchers than same handed pitchers. In other words, right-handed batters do better against left-handed pitchers and vice versa.
Switch hitting is mainly left-handed batting
But attributing all the difference to handedness is incorrect. The phrase “switch hit” is a misnomer. The more precise nomenclature is a switch hitter is a batter who bats from the left-handed batters box 90% of the time in amateur baseball and 67% of the time in pro baseball.
So it is not just the batter’s ability to see the release point better and handle the curve and slider better, the switch hitter is mostly batting lift-handed and thereby picks up all the other advantages I listed in my bat left-handed only article.
In the book The Physics of Baseball, Professor Robert Adair breaks the so-called opposite-handed stats into those for left-handed and right-handed batters. In fact, left-handed batters have .0287 better batting averages against right handed pitchers and right-handed batters have .0164 better batting averages against left-handed pitchers. That means the left-handed batter’s box has a .0287 - .0164 = .0123 advantage over the right-handed one even when the pitcher and batter are opposite-handed. Why? Because of the advantages I listed in my never bat right-handed article.
Also, I must note that the batting average is one of the most discredited statistics in baseball. It treats a home run the same as a single and ignores walks. wOBA is the better stat for measuring success at the plate.
Switch hitting is NOT best; it’s stupid
Most baseball people think switch hitting is the best if you can do it. Bull! How many of the guys on the “top 50 career batting average” list are switch hitters?
Would you believe ZERO? http://www.baseball-reference.com/.../batting_avg_career...
How about the top hundred? Two guys. Roger Connor who is 64th and retired in 1897 and Frankie Frisch who is 68th and retired in 1937.
What about the famous switch hitters? Chipper Jones is tied for 161st and Pete Rose is tied for 173rd. Mickey Mantle is tied for 229th.
Waste of practice time
Switch hitting is a waste of practice time. Furthermore, even if you buy the opposite-handed-trumps all other considerations mind-set, you have to practice batting right-handed half the time, but you only get to use it about 10% of the time in amateur games and 33% of the time in pro games.
The main problem with switch hitting is it violates the rule against never batting right-handed.
Hardly any left-handed switch hitters
Here is another tidbit about switch-hitting. Thirty-five times as many switch hitters throw right handed than left-handed in MLB. Why? Because switch hitting is really mainly just batting left-handed and 99% of the guys who throw left ALREADY bat left-handed. (Rickey Henderson and George H.W. Bush were both rare TL/BRs. Idiots!)
TR/BL gives you a 17,000 times better chance of making MLB as a position player!
Here is another tidbit about batting left-handed. In the general population, about .001% of baseball players throw right and bat left. But in MLB, 17% of position players have that combination! That gives the player in question a 17% ÷ .001% = 17,000 times better chance of making the MLB!!!! It will also increase their success at all lower levels.
Left-handed-throwing position players are discriminated against at four positions
Left-handed throwing non-pitchers are discriminated against at four positions: second base, shortstop, third base, and catcher. It makes sense in the infield, but the catcher thing is just nutty.
So if you have a five-year old boy whom you would like to have the best chance to be a position-player Little League all-star, high school star, and maybe college and MLB player, start him out throwing right and batting left. Again, his chances of making the Major Leagues are 17,000 times better than if he bats right!!
TR/BR is the only category discriminated AGAINST by baseball
The incidence of those who bat and throw right in MLB is the only group that is lower proportionally than in the general population. 61% of MLB position players are BR/TR; 89% of the general population is. TR/BR players are the “red-headed stepchild” of the sport of baseball.
If you want your child be all he or she can be in baseball at all levels, bat left and throw right, unless you are a pitcher in which case, throw left, or better yet, be a switch thrower. Details on that in another article.