Thursday, September 17, 2009

Godzilla Against Southpaws

Good morning, Fackers. Thanks largely Hideki Matsui's continued success against lefthanded pitchers, the Yankees celebrated yet another walk off victory last night. They needed it to stay 6.5 games up on the Red Sox who had some heroics of their own, scoring two in both the bottom of the 8th and 9th, en route to beating the Angels 9-8. However, the Angels' loss means that they Yanks are now 7 games up on the Halos for homefield advantage.

Back to the Yanks, though. Sure, Chad Gaudin put together a solid effort and Frankie Cervelli got the pie, but had Joe Girardi chose to sit Matsui like he did his other power hitting lefty, Johnny Damon, the Yanks might not have been within striking distance when the bottom of the ninth came around.

Hideki started early, as he drove in a run off of lefthanded starter Brian Tallet with a single to put the Yanks up 2-0 in the first inning. He also chipped in late, during cruch time, with the biggest hit of the game in terms of WPA, a game-tying, two run homer in the eighth inning off of lefty reliever Scott Downs.

Amazingly, 12 of Matsui's 25 home runs this season have come against southpaws despite having less than 1/3 of his plate appearances against them. He's averaging a home run in every 11.6 PAs against lefties (which would be good for 51 HRs/600PA) but only every 26.1 PAs against righties (23/600). Matsui has a pretty even platoon split over his career (including HR/PA), but this year, what he lacks in BA and OBP against lefties, he's making up for with long balls, now slugging a truly Godzillian .610.

Is this a product of the New Yankee Stadium? Eight of his 12 dingers off lefties have come at home and all of them have gone out to right or right-centerfield. His BB/K ratio against lefties is down at home, meaning he might be trying to swing for the fences more often.

He also has an even home/road split, which means that only 5 of his longballs against righties have come at TNYS. This seems to be a symptom of the rare but deadly Reverse Inverted Nick Swisheritis.

Is there some luck involved? It's baseball, isn't there always? Sixteen of his 21 doubles have come against righties and you would expect the doubles and home runs to even out on each side of the platoon split over time. His BABIP is lower against lefties too (.242/.291), but that's partially as a result of all the homers.

It seems a foregone conclusion that the Yankees will let Matsui walk at the end of the season and it's almost impossible to argue with that. They aren't going to plug up the DH spot with a guy who can no longer play the outfield. But perhaps a team like the Royals who have the lowest production out of their cleanup hitter in the majors by a staggering margin could use his help. Or perhaps he'll go back to Japan and continue to mash over there. Or maybe he'll just hang up his cleats for good.

Regardless, it's nice to see Matsui during his last our of duty make a graceful exit from the Bronx. He's been nothing short of dignified in his tenure here and it would have been terrible to see him exit with a bunch of strikeouts and errors. Credit goes to Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman who saved his knees by not letting him play the field, but most of all to Matsui who has played a crucial role in the Yankees resurgent offense this year.


  1. I'm really going to miss Matsui. He has really come through for the Yankees, especially this year.

  2. I wasn't expecting much from him this year, but it would be a gross understatement to state that he has been vital to the Yankees offense this year.

  3. Hideki Matsui? Can he even speak American? Or is he just a Chinese man with no caring?

  4. Anon, is that a terrible joke or are you completely retarded? Either way, try to actually add something to the conversation next time.