Only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed, and lefties usually show some level of ambidexterity. Left-handers tend to be independent and resilient, probably because the world around them is set up for right-handers (except at Flanders' Leftorium, of course). Our current president is a lefty, as was his Republican opponent. History and tradition tend to favor righties, however, as the word "sinister" comes from the Latin word for left. Left-handers couldn't write with quills because writing left-to-right meant their hand smeared the ink, and objects such as a computer mouse, scissors and car gear shifter are all made for righties.
In baseball, however, starting pitchers are rewarded for having the sinister trait because they are rare. Sure,
Wait, Koufax down to fifth and Kaat on the list? While I did look at ratios (like K per season) I also looked at career numbers. I can't assume what Koufax would have done if healthy (or after the Tommy John surgery era), and I can't discount anyone who threw in the majors for 28 seasons like Kaat.
So bringing it back to 2009, we'll look at how teams are faring against lefties this season and what that means for every lefty starter in the majors not on the DL.
The legend is that the term "southpaw" originated from baseball as stadiums were built to face east so the batter avoided squinting into the sun in the afternoon/evening. That meant a pitcher on the mound facing the batter has his left arm on the south side. However, some sources claim the term predates baseball, so that's likely an urban legend. But hey, it's better than the bloody hook on the car door story. So, how are teams doing against southpaws?
AL: NYY (.350), TOR (.312), TEX (.311), DET (.309), CLE (.286)
AL: OAK (.209), MIN (.247), BAL (.256), SEA (.264), BOS (.263)
AL: NYY (.567), TEX (.517), CLE (.498), DET (.481), TOR (.467)
AL: OAK (.289), MIN (.357), BAL (.376), SEA (.379), LAA (.388)
And now for some fine print. Past results are not conclusive in terms of future performance, as my broker, Gorlock, has told me the past few years. There will always be some regression to the mean, which basically means the Yankees will get stymied by a lefty sometime soon and the Reds will break out against one.
But these numbers are a good indication of whether a team is more likely to fail or succeed against a southpaw. So not only can you use these numbers to decide if your lefty starter will likely do well against a certain team, you can keep in mind how tough or easy the matchup is for your left or right-handed pitcher's team (and hence the run support he'll receive), if you're not sure about starting him.
Your starters fall into one of four categories: (1) start always, (2) start unless the matchup is bad, (3) don't start unless the matchup is good, or (4) don't start. So let's go through the lefties in the league and figure which category best fits them: