- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN Insider
Left-handed hitters have always been the blessed sons of baseball. The construction of the game favors them, generally, because the placement of first base on the right side of the diamond allows them to follow through with their swings, in an easy flow of mechanics, before they drop their bat deftly and begin their journey on the baseline directly.
This is probably the reason why left-handed swings are more picturesque than the hacks of right-handed hitters, who must apply the brakes to their swing after contact and reverse the momentum of their bodies before they can begin to run to first.
For the most part right-handed hitters take more time running to first base than left-handed hitters. They also are more likely to hit into double plays and much less likely to win batting titles. Left-handed hitters often have the advantage of being able to fluidly aim for the first-base hole whenever a runner is perched at first base, because the first baseman is anchored to the base.
Ty Cobb was a left-handed hitter. So were Babe Ruth, Tony Gwynn, Ted Williams, Ken Griffey Jr. and Rafael Palmeiro -- those with the prettiest swings on the planet. Ernie Lombardi, appropriately, was a right-handed hitter.
But as more accurate technology for assessing baseball’s strike zone becomes available, it’s becoming increasing evident that left-handed hitters are at significant disadvantage when it comes to the ball-strike interpretation of umpires.
11dJeff Banister, Special to ESPN.com
12dBrayan Pena, Special to ESPN.com
15dMatt Buschmann, Special to ESPN.com
16dA.J. Ellis, Special for ESPN.com