Buddy up! Players who should be platooned in 2013

Sweet Swing, but sweeter against righties. - USA TODAY Sports

As we head into the 2013 season, we analyze players who would benefit from a platoon and others who would see little to no effect in the process.

Platooning is a popular choice among managers when faced with a small budget and an abundance of players for limited positions. Or perhaps, when given a roster lacking talent -- a manager would consider meshing pieces together in order to create a more well rounded player out of two ( a-la A's 2012).

But when can we recognize that a player is a platoon player? Can we look to the stats to accurately quantify the players that would be best suited as platoon players?

Platoon Score

First, we will will create a plus-stat for certain metrics that are associated with batting success by splits.

Essentially, we are creating a metric that encases a player's skill against righties and lefties by his splits numbers.

Traditionally, a "plus" stat is adjusted by the league average -- like in ERA+: ((LeagueAverageERA/ERA)*100).

However, today we are going to do something a little different; we will adjust for a player's split numbers: ex. ((BB%(vs.righties)/BB%(left))*100.

Now, we will create an index of stats we usually look at when comparing splits. For the sake of simplicity we will calculate RIGHT -- or a player's skill against right handed pitching as:


And LEFT -- a batter's skill against left handed pitching as:


Then we will take these two totals, "RIGHT" and "LEFT", and find their z-scores.

With that in hand, we will find the absolute value of the differential of the z-scores, which should give us "Platoon."

The higher the "Platoon Score", the better their candidacy for platooning -- in large part because they have a large handicap against a certain pitching side. However, please do take into account that this metric is only weighting the 2012 season and does not take into account career split totals. That being said, a drop off in a certain split totals can be a dangerous sign and a significant precursor. Meanwhile, a high "RIGHT" or "LEFT" score does not mean a high level of production because this is not a measure of value, but only a measure in context of a player's production based on his left vs. right handed pitching split.

Further to the above point, Dee Gordon has one of the highest "RIGHT" scores because he is nearly 280% better against right handed pitching, but that is not within the context of league average but rather in comparison to his horrendous splits against lefties.

Here is the top 25 for "Platoon:"

Name RIGHT LEFT Rzscore Lzscore Platoon
Dee Gordon 205.37 71.98 4.26 -1.45 5.71
Justin Morneau 185.06 59.95 3.42 -1.94 5.36
Clint Barmes 68.24 198.58 -1.41 3.72 5.14
Casper Wells 59.67 186.60 -1.77 3.23 5.00
Robinson Cano 175.92 60.89 3.05 -1.90 4.95
Jesus Guzman 57.62 179.97 -1.85 2.96 4.82
Cliff Pennington 168.65 60.87 2.74 -1.90 4.65
Andre Ethier 167.23 61.19 2.69 -1.89 4.57
Logan Forsythe 59.67 167.88 -1.77 2.47 4.24
Dayan Viciedo 62.02 162.94 -1.67 2.27 3.94
Ike Davis 155.06 65.43 2.18 -1.72 3.90
Justin Ruggiano 66.25 159.28 -1.50 2.12 3.61
Steve Lombardozzi 150.86 71.32 2.01 -1.48 3.48
Jason Heyward 147.18 68.98 1.86 -1.57 3.43
Anthony Rizzo 146.76 68.86 1.84 -1.58 3.41
Jamey Carroll 69.53 157.43 -1.36 2.04 3.40
Alex Avila 147.46 74.31 1.87 -1.35 3.22
Neil Walker 155.49 83.64 2.20 -0.97 3.17
A.J. Pierzynski 145.39 73.50 1.78 -1.39 3.17
Jacoby Ellsbury 150.23 78.50 1.98 -1.18 3.16
Wilin Rosario 70.42 150.49 -1.32 1.76 3.08
Cody Ross 68.87 148.52 -1.39 1.68 3.07
Shin-Soo Choo 143.19 74.09 1.69 -1.36 3.05
Paul Goldschmidt 68.86 147.08 -1.39 1.62 3.01
Sean Rodriguez 89.81 164.93 -0.52 2.35 2.87

For starters, Cano is not a platoon player by any means; his 2012 season against left handed pitchers was the worst in his career, after having little trouble with them in previous campaigns. Being that Cano was very ineffective against lefties in 2012, platoon rates him high, regardless of previous campaign performance.

Meanwhile, we see that Morneau may not be any more than a platoon player at this point in his career, along with a declining Ichiro.

Andre Ethier has been thrown around as a platoon quality player the last few seasons because of his inability to hit lefties. Nonetheless, the Dodgers have stuck with him because he has been a top-10 hitter against right handed pitching the last few seasons (155 wRC+, seventh in the league since 2010). The Dodgers are hoping to see some improvement for Ethier when he faces lefties in 2013, because any uptick in his production there will pay big dividends to his overall value.

A guy like Casper Wells is an intriguing outfielder who offers awesome pop from the right side against lefties. Similarly, Jesus Guzman is a name I expected to see here -- along with Justin Ruggiano and Matt Carpenter, who seem to be good platoon players.

Clint Barmes could be an interesting platoon candidate with the Astros, especially given that they have an extra spot in the lineup to accompany him. Wilin Rosario is no surprise here as he absolutely raked lefties last year, but was well below average otherwise.

Onward, to the bottom 25 players.

Note: These are not necessarily the best regulars or ones I would suggest to play everyday, but the way we calculate Platoon simply means that they do not (recently) exhibit a particular advantage against either side.

Name RIGHT LEFT Rzscore Lzscore Platoon
Kurt Suzuki 98.801 103.138 -0.148 -0.175 0.027
Michael Saunders 98.100 103.768 -0.177 -0.149 0.027
Ian Desmond 98.573 104.612 -0.157 -0.115 0.042
Carlos Gomez 97.100 103.335 -0.218 -0.167 0.051
Elliot Johnson 100.255 107.508 -0.088 0.003 0.091
Nick Markakis 100.236 103.024 -0.088 -0.180 0.091
Aaron Hill 98.615 106.164 -0.156 -0.052 0.104
Placido Polanco 102.443 110.449 0.003 0.123 0.121
Shelley Duncan 99.248 101.075 -0.129 -0.259 0.130
Austin Jackson 96.177 104.775 -0.257 -0.108 0.148
Brandon Phillips 96.225 104.979 -0.255 -0.100 0.155
Carlos Ruiz 97.640 106.646 -0.196 -0.032 0.164
Yunel Escobar 98.741 107.912 -0.150 0.020 0.170
Corey Hart 95.877 105.066 -0.269 -0.096 0.173
Alfonso Soriano 96.938 106.256 -0.225 -0.048 0.177
Rickie Weeks 100.224 110.106 -0.089 0.109 0.198
Asdrubal Cabrera 95.108 105.279 -0.301 -0.088 0.213
Gregor Blanco 94.968 105.729 -0.307 -0.069 0.237
Giancarlo Stanton 94.741 105.698 -0.316 -0.071 0.245
Alex Rios 94.990 106.497 -0.306 -0.038 0.268
Miguel Cabrera 111.981 110.581 0.398 0.129 0.269
David Freese 94.428 105.998 -0.329 -0.058 0.271
Paul Konerko 95.746 107.725 -0.274 0.012 0.287
J.D. Martinez 101.375 99.337 -0.041 -0.330 0.289
Dexter Fowler 102.210 100.122 -0.007 -0.298 0.292
Yoenis Cespedes 102.376 99.911 0.000 -0.307 0.307

Kurt Suzuki has the lowest platoon in the league, but the truth is he was not particularly good against either left or right-handed pitching. Meanwhile, we have some well balanced players in Cespedes and Fowler. So if you look down on the list, Miguel Cabrera is there as a guy who was pretty well-rounded, at an MVP level.

The ever reliable Paul Konerko fills up the bottom alongside a similar David Freese.

Ian Desmond enjoyed a breakout 2012 season, and as you can see, he was pretty reliable against any pitcher.

One good sign is seeing Stanton on this list. As we know his power is legit throughout; pure power and distributed production when facing either handed pitcher.

No real surprises here, most of these guys are either pretty good at hitting both arm-sides, or just outright terrible at facing both.

Big thanks to Fangraphs and the BDB for the statistics!


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