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Brushing Up on the Fundamentals
by Scott Spreitzer - 06/23/2006
A lot of winning handicappers pick up a few winners a week just by knowing which major league baseball teams either thrive or struggle versus left-handed starting pitchers. There are always teams every season that show some clear tendencies in this regard.
Today I wanted to run through a list of teams who qualify for either case thus far this season. Now, I'm not saying that all will absolutely, positively continue the trend in the second half of the season. And some teams who struggle against lefties will still kill BAD lefties, while those who beat lefties will still get shut down by GREAT lefties. You've got to use your handicapping discretion when applying an angle like this.
Here's a list of the seven teams who have shown the biggest percentage discrepancy between their won-lost performance against lefties as compared to righties heading into this past weekend.
GOOD VERSUS LEFTHANDED STARTERS
DETROIT (12-4 vs. lefties): The Tigers have a .750 winning percentage vs. lefthanded starters, and a still-impressive .638 vs. right handers. Yes, the Tigers have been beating up on everybody! But, you should be aware that they're beating up on lefties at a better pace.
NEW YORK YANKEES (14-6 vs. lefties): The Yankees have a .700 winning percentage vs. lefthanded starters, and a .529 mark against righties. Here we have another good team, but one that's having more success vs. southpaws.
HOUSTON (11-5 vs. lefties): This one has snuck by some people. The Astros have a .688 winning percentage vs. lefthanded starters, and a .448 mark against righties. This is a BIG percentage difference. From what I've seen, the oddsmakers haven't really adjusted for this at all.
CINCINNATI (16-8 vs. lefties): The slugging Reds have a .667 winning percentage vs. lefthanded starters, and a .480 mark against righties. Again, it's a losing team vs. one side but not the other. Be sure you think of the Reds differently based on the opposing starter.
SAN DIEGO (10-5 vs. lefties): The Padres have a .667 winning percentage vs. lefthanded starters, and a dead even .500 mark vs. righties. Looks like so good value potential to me.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (9-5 vs. lefties): Another NL West team in the same boat as San Diego. The numbers are almost the same. Los Angeles has a .642 winning percentage vs. lefthanded starters, and a .491 mark against righties.
TEXAS (11-6 vs. lefties): The 7th and final team on the list is Texas. The Rangers have a .647 winning percentage vs. lefthanded starters, and a .500 mark vs. righties.
Make sure you red flag those teams on your schedule every day to see if they're facing a left-handed starter. You should definitely plan on investing in them when they face a struggling lefthander, or one from their own division that they've hit well in the past.
Now here's a list of five teams who have had inordinate struggles vs. southpaws.
BAD VS. LEFTHANDED STARTERS
BALTIMORE (4-14 vs. lefties): Were you aware of this? The Orioles are playing just .222 ball vs. lefthanded starters, but are .526 against righties. That's a big dichotomy you should definitely be paying attention to.
SEATTLE (7-14 vs. lefties): The Mariners are playing .333 ball vs. lefthanded starters, but a sturdy .527 vs. righties. Another team with a dramatic difference that doesn't seem to have been noticed by the oddsmakers.
ATLANTA (6-12 vs. lefties): The collapsing Braves are losing to everyone lately. For the year, they're playing .333 ball vs. lefthanded starters, and .446 ball vs. righties.
FLORIDA (6-12 vs. lefties): Resurgent Florida is still likely to have trouble with southpaws. They're playing .333 ball vs. lefthanded starters, and .481 ball vs. righties this season.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS (9-15 vs. lefties): Don't get the LA teams confused! The Angels of the American League are playing .375 ball vs. lefthanded starters, .490 vs. righties. This team is having a disappointing season. Most of that disappointment has come against lefties.
You can take good lefthanders with confidence against teams on this list, and probably even the average ones as well.
I hope this helps as you handicap baseball games in the coming days and weeks. Be sure to monitor developments on your own on this site just in case other teams start showing similar tendencies after injuries or other personnel changes.
Knowing this information is worth a few winners a week. In a six month season, that adds up!