Like any self-respecting baseball nerd, I held off for a good 20 minutes before diving into Fangraphs new splits feature with both feet. Oooohhh Lyle Overbay, as we all knew, is good against right-handed pitching. Quickly realizing I should use this new fount of knowledge for good, not evil; I turned to Ricky Romero. Would anything stand out? Is there a chink in the armor/reason for hope?
Of course there is! Ricky Romero, as it turns out, gave up a high number of home runs to left-handed batters. Everything about facing lefties stays with the conventional line of reasoning: he doesn't walk them, he strikes them out much more than right handed batters, he just served up a whole bunch of lefty tater tots.
"How many is a whole bunch?" you may ask. 10 in total, which represent one quarter of all the fly balls surrendered to left-handed hitters.
Wow. Shocking! I am shocked. How does one amass a HR/FB of 23.3% against same handed hitters while only surrendering home runs on 8.2% of righties? So weird. There must be something to this.
Firstly, fly balls are not Ricky Romero's thing. He's a ground ball man, through and through. Which is good. But why the dingers. Let's take a look at where this dingerballs came from. You are clicking, you are enlarging.
Nothing jumps out at me. Seven fastballs, three sliders. Four first pitches, two full counts. So what's the deal? Why did Ricky serve up so many? Missing his spot is the one explanation, ballpark factors could be another.
These ten home runs fly from but three ballparks: the Rogers Centre, Camden Yards, and New Yankee Stadium. Hmm! Two incredibly lefty-friendly yards and one deep, despairing hole in the earth, a chasm that brings pleasure to no man. Now that's something. A mild smidgen of hope.
No matter how hard I try to spin it there is no doubt Ricky Romero should see an improvement against lefties. He's too good a pitcher to continue watching balls directed skyward by deeply flawed humans land in the right field bullpen one out of every four occasions. A few more dying on the warning track (especially in grown-up ballparks), a slight uptick in seasoning (moxie! guile!) and Ricky Romero can be even better in 2010.
Thanks to Reuters via Daylife for the photo, Fangraphs for the split info, Hit Tracker Online for a few key details and my new lord and master Joe Lefkowitz for the Pitch F/X goodness.