Musings about, um... well, the Seattle Mariners as well as a love affair with this game baseball. By Peter J. White
The reasons for this probably stem from the fact that, since RHP are predominant at any level of baseball, it is all but impossible for a RHB to reach the major leagues without developing the ability to hit RHP to a degree acceptable in the major leagues. Players who simply cannot hit RHP get left behind at college or in minor league baseball at some point. However, LHB are in a different scenario, as it is quite conceivable that, because they face limited LHP, they could simply never develop the ability to hit LHP, but can still hit RHP. A RHB who can't hit RHP will never make the majors, but its very conceivable that LHB who can't hit LHP could make the majors, and it happens all the time. In other words, while Toronto fans can expect Vernon to hit LHP better next year, Minnesota fans shouldn't expect anything but sucking from Jacque Jones against southpaws.
Let me be very clear about this: Yes, there most certainly is a difference to hitting against righties and lefties. As a group, right-handed hitters fare roughly eight percent better against left-handed pitchers than they do against right-handed pitchers...
Why would this be? Here's one theory (not my own, by the way) ... Growing up, right-handed batters face mostly right-handed pitchers, and so they get used to them. When they reach the minor leagues, it's not easy to hit a curveball or slider thrown by a right-handed pitcher ... but at least they've seen those pitches before. But there are very few left-handed pitchers in Little League, and few even in high school. So when a left-handed hitter enters professional baseball, having already spent many years learning to hit, he will probably have faced very few left-handed pitchers. And very few good left-handed curveballs and sliders.
Now, here's the hard part ... All (or almost all) right-handed hitters innately have that 8-percent edge against left-handed pitching. No matter what a right-handed hitter did last year against left-handed pitching, or even over the last five years (or more), it's highly likely that he's innately 8 percent better against lefties than righties.
We still carry the historical baggage of a Platonic heritage that seeks sharp essences and definite boundaries. (Thus we hope to find an unambiguous "beginning of life" or "definition of death," although nature often comes to us as irreducible continua.) This Platonic heritage, with its emphasis in clear distinctions and separated immutable entities, leads us to view statistical measures of central tendency wrongly, indeed opposite to the appropriate interpretation in our actual world of variation, shadings, and continua. In short, we view means and medians as the hard "realities," and the variation that permits their calculation as a set of transient and imperfect measurements of this hidden essence. If the median is the reality and variation around the median just a device for its calculation, the "I will probably be dead in eight months" may pass as a reasonable interpretation.
But all evolutionary biologists know that variation itself is nature's only irreducible essence. Variation is the hard reality, not a set of imperfect measures for a central tendency. Means and medians are the abstractions. Therefore, I looked at the mesothelioma statistics quite differently - and not only because I am an optimist who tends to see the doughnut instead of the hole, but primarily because I know that variation itself is the reality. I had to place myself amidst the variation.
Seattle general manager Bill Bavasi would not confirm the signing, which would fill the 40-man roster, saying only, "We're working on things" (Finnigan, Times).
"We're not so much looking for an outfielder as guy who can protect Edgar (Martinez, designated hitter) and maybe play some first base," Bavasi said. "Burks would have been perfect, but we couldn't move on him until Sasaki left, and by that time he was far down the road with Boston. So we'll just keep looking around" (Finnigan).