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Switch hitter

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In baseball, a switch-hitter bats right-handed against left-handed pitchers and left-handed against right-handed pitchers.

Tactics and TechniqueEdit

Usually, right-handed batters hit better against left-handed pitchers and vice-versa. Most curveballs break away from batters hitting from the same side as the opposing pitcher. Such pitches are often harder to hit than those from the other side. Even so, many switch-hitters do better from one side of the plate than the other. Numerous switch-hitters have achieved a higher batting average on one side, yet have more power from the other. For instance, New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle always considered himself a better right-handed hitter, but he has more home runs left-handed. [1] (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 the 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. )

Most switch-hitters have been right-handed throwers. There have been exceptions: Lance Berkman, Dave Collins, Doug Dascenzo, Mitch Webster, Wes Parker, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, David Segui and J. T. Snow (who in the final years of his career hit exclusively left-handed).

Switch-hitting pitchers are relatively rare. They include Mordecai Brown, Norm Charlton, Marvin Rotblatt, Sid Monge and Johnny Vander Meer, J.C. Romero, Kyle Snyder, Wandy Rodriguez, Troy Patton, Tim Dillard, Tyler Johnson, Carlos Zambrano, Dock Ellis. Joaquín Andújar was an eccentric switch-hitter; sometimes he hit right-handed against lefties, sometimes left-handed. Essentially, Andujar batted according to whim.

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. And both their teams required them to bat only right-handed, lest they expose their pitching arms to the possibility of being hit by a pitch.

CricketEdit

Main article: Switch hit

In cricket, a rare variation of the reverse sweep, in which the stance is changed during the bowler's delivery action, has been compared to switch-hitting. England's Kevin Pietersen is a notable user of this shot. The shot has generated much debate in the cricket world, some heralding it as an outstanding display of skill and others arguing that if the batsman changes stance he gains an unfair advantage over the bowler.[2] On June 17, 2008 the MCC deemed that the shot was legal under the laws of the game and that Pietersen was free to continue to use the shot at his own discretion.[3]

CriticismsEdit

It is rare for a switch hitter, even a great, Hall of Fame-caliber switch hitter, to post similar numbers (average, OBP, and SLG,) from each side of the plate, which has led some to question whether switch-hitting is such an advantage after all. Some managers believe they are a necessary evil, essentially taking the position that switch-hitters are entirely different hitters from one side of the plate from the other and thus have different strengths and weaknesses.

There have been a few young switch-hitters who have been called up to the majors that were convinced (or told) to bat exclusively from one side of the plate, as switch-hitting can make the already complex task of hitting a baseball needlessly more complex. Mike Schmidt, the Philadelphia Phillies' Hall of Fame third baseman, is such an example. But on the other hand, the St. Louis Cardinals' Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith, originally a right-handed hitter, taught himself to bat left-handed in his late teens, and, although known as a defensive wizard, eventually became a .300 hitter. Sometimes coaches will teach a right-handed hitter to bat left-handed simply to have the extra step to first base, thereby allowing faster players to get on base more often. However this method may sacrifice contact or power until fully mastered.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Mickey Mantle Obituary", Baseball Almanac. Retrieved on July 14, 2008.
  2. http://www.setanta.com/en/Sport/News/Other-sports/2008/06/16/Cricket-MCC-to-investigate-KP/?facets/sport-space/great-britain-locale/cricket/
  3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/england/7456149.stm

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