Positions advantageous to southpaws are pitching, first base and right field. For the positions, the advantage is the favorable angles lefties get, enabling them to throw the ball more quickly across the diamond to second, third and home. One position a lefty rarely plays is catcher, for the obvious reason that it is difficult for a southpaw catcher to throw over so many right-hand batters.
"It wasn't all that long ago when first basemen were predominantly left-handed and most right fielders were left-handed," Peters says. "That has changed at least since the late sixties."
There's even a bias toward the lefthander in ballpark design. Right field in most parks (just think of Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park) is usually shorter than left field because of the preponderance of right-handed hitters.
While traditional thinking holds that the right-handed batter has the advantage over the left-handed pitcher, because the breaking ball goes into the batter's power threshold, it's not always the case, says Peters. And it's that familiarity thing again.
"Because only 10 percent of the population is left-handed, kids grow up and mature in baseball seeing a left-hander just 10 percent of the time they bat," he says. "So, it can be hard for both lefties and righties to face a southpaw. It's why some left-handed batters look dreadful matched against a lefty."
Some batters don't like facing southpaws because their ball is purported to have a natural movement away from a right-hander and into a lefty.
"There's no scientific evidence to support this, but I wonder if lefties get that movement from learning to write in a right-hander's world," Peters says.
|Contact: David A. Peterson|
Washington University in St. Louis