Are we screwed against lefties?

With the additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez the Sox have added two tremendous players to the lineup, one considered to be the best positional player available via free agency and the other considered to be the best available via trade (so far).  With both players being left handed hitters it begs the question, how will the new 2011 Sox fare against left handed pitching?

First we need to consider, what are we replacing, and with whom?  We lose Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and with the addition of Crawford, one of Ellsbury, Cameron and Drew.  

The easy one first, Adrian Beltre positionally is being replaced by Kevin Youkilis, in the lineup, by Adrian Gonzalez. At catcher, at the moment we're looking at a Saltalamacchia and Varitek platoon to relace Martinez.  The outfield get's trickier.  The best bet would probably be moving Cameron into a platoon with JD Drew, but it's uncertain what will happen there exactly.

Now, a quick look at the 2010 version of the Red Sox against left handed pitching, I've left a few minor players and pitchers out of this, my cut off point was 30 PAs against lefties considering the injuries and fill ins we had.  I used the stat weighted on base average or wOBA, a way of measuring power and patience in one number, it's scaled to OBP, so an average wOBA is equal to the league average OBP, roughly around .335.  Whatever you would consider to be an impressive OBP, is considered an impressive wOBA.


Name / PA / wOBA

Kevin Youkilis / 113 / .536

Victor Martinez / 167 / .520

Mike Cameron / 48 / .479

Jed Lowrie / 81 / .442

Adrian Beltre / 200 / .396

Darnell McDonald / 174 / .360

Marco Scutaro / 200 / .331

Dustin Pedroia / 90 / .322

Daniel Nava / 36 / .306

Bill Hall / 163 / .298

Mike Lowell / 106 / .282

J.D. Drew / 172 / .280

David Ortiz / 200 / .268

Ryan Kalish / 44 / .260

All in all these batters led the Sox to about a .360 wOBA against lefties by my calculations.  

Here is what we've added to the equation:

Carl Crawford came off a year in which he hit to a .306 wOBA against lefties, Adrian hit a career best .403 wOBA against them.

Now next year, let's look at the idealized lineup against lefties considering career wOBA against them. 

1B: Gonzalez .339

2B: Pedroia .355

SS: Lowrie .408

3B: Youkilis .402

C: Varitek .369

LF: Crawford .307

CF: Ellsbury .334

RF: Cameron .381

DH: Ortiz/Drew .336/.340

Now, I gave Crawford and Ellsbury the edge in the field mostly due to age, neither hit lefties better but Drew might be going the other direction of them in terms of ability.  If both Drew and Ortiz continue to be abysmal against lefties its possible maybe Scutaro could see some DH time, with his .328 career wOBA against them that he actually performed up to this season. Assuming this lineup (with Ortiz at DH) and equal at bats for all as well as exactly career numbers, this lineup would produce a wOBA of .359, nearly exactly what we did with a lineup featuring Martinez and Beltre.  

Of course this all making a lot of assumptions and Francona doing the right thing when facing a lefty, but all things considered, we don't drop off a whole lot as some might think with Beltre and Victor gone.  

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