Switchhitter - Characteristics

Characteristics

Usually, right-handed batters hit better against left-handed pitchers and vice versa. Most curveballs break away from batters hitting from the same side as the opposing pitcher, making them harder to hit with the barrel (or "sweet spot") of the bat. Also, the pitcher's release is further from the batter's center of vision. In switch-pitcher Pat Venditte's words, "If I'm pitching right handed and they're hitting right handed, it's tougher for them to see. And then, your breaking pitches are going away from their barrel rather than into their barrel." Even so, many switch-hitters do better from one side of the plate than the other. Numerous switch-hitters have achieved a higher batting average on one side, yet have more power from the other. For instance, New York Yankees great Mickey Mantle always considered himself a better right-handed hitter, but hit more home runs left-handed. (However, many of Mantle's left-handed home runs were struck at Yankee Stadium, a park notorious for being very friendly to left-handed power hitters due to the short right field porch, and Mantle batted left-handed much more often than right-handed, simply because there have always been more right-handed than left-handed pitchers.)

Most switch-hitters have been right-handed throwers, though among other exceptions have been the following players: Lance Berkman, Dave Collins, Doug Dascenzo, Mitch Webster, Wes Parker, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Justin Smoak, David Segui and J. T. Snow (who in the final years of his career hit exclusively left-handed).

Switch-hitting pitchers are relatively rare. They include Mordecai Brown, Norm Charlton, Vida Blue, Marvin Rotblatt, Sid Monge, Johnny Vander Meer, J.C. Romero, Kyle Snyder, Wandy Rodriguez, Troy Patton, Tim Dillard, Tyler Johnson, Carlos Zambrano, Dock Ellis, Anthony Claggett, Kris Medlen, Justin De Fratus and Drew Storen. Joaquín Andújar sometimes hit right-handed against lefties, sometimes left-handed.

Management also had a say in the switch-hitting careers of Bob Gibson and Dwight Gooden. Both Gibson and Gooden—each right-handed, and a fine hitting pitcher—had reached the major leagues as a switch-hitter, and both their teams required them to bat only right-handed, to reduce the possibility of their pitching arms being hit by a pitch.

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