Yesterday’s point was that both Utley and Howard are facing lefties more regularly than other elite left-handed hitters in baseball. Today’s is that this is a bigger deal for Utley than it is for Howard. By OPS, over the last three years the difference between what the two did against right-handed and left-handed pitching has been much more dramatic for Howard than it has been for Utley. Over the last two years, Utley has been the better hitter against lefties by a wide margin while Howard has struggled.
Here’s Howard’s total OPS, his OPS against righties and against lefties over the past three years:
First of all, just wow. That’s pretty much what you would hope that chart wouldn’t look like. That said, though, the focus of this post is the difference between what Howard does against right-handed pitching, the purple line, and what he does against left-handed pitching, the orange line. Over the three years they have been separated by between 220 points (in 2008 he put up an .746 OPS against lefties and a .966 OPS against righties) and 246 points (in ’07 he was 1.072 against righties and .826 against lefties).
The other point is that the .746 OPS against lefties, Howard put up a 224/294/451 line against them in ’08, isn’t good.
For Utley, the difference between what he’s done against righties and lefties is much smaller. His OPS against left-handed hitting has been better than Howard’s by at least a hundred points for each of the past two seasons:
Over the past three seasons, the biggest difference between the OPS that Utley posted against lefties and righties came in 2007. His OPS against righties was just seventy-seven points higher in that season (for Howard the smallest difference over the past two years has been two hundred and twenty points).
In 2007, Utley put up an .927 OPS against lefties, which was more than hundred points higher than the .826 put up by Howard. Utley’s .888 against lefties in ’08 was 142 points higher than Howard’s .746.
This suggests that Utley may be more ready for opening day than Feliz.
Long SI article about Cole Hamels and family.