Carleton: Should teams worry about lineup balance?

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on December 17, 2014:

This offseason, there’s been much made of the supposed lack of right-handed power hitters. Some teams are feeling their lineups leaning a little too heavily to the port side and are thinking that they need to either re-condition one of them to hit from the right side or trade for someone (Hello Justin Upton!). The tactical aspect of it is fairly obvious. Teams don’t like stacking left-handed hitters in their lineup, because it makes them vulnerable later in the game to a LOOGY coming in and being able to have a platoon advantage against a couple hitters in a row without having to worry about facing a righty somewhere in the middle there.

Should they worry about that? The platoon advantage is real and is well known, but left-handed pitchers do not reduce left-handed hitters to nothingness, just slightly-less-than-ness. Everything else equal, a team would rather have a righty to stick between two lefties, but of course, everything else is not always equal. At some point, it’s not worth grabbing just some random righty off the shelf just to say you have one. What if the lefty is an order of magnitude better than the righty?

How much of a difference does there have to be between a lefty and a righty before we can stop worrying about the platoon effect and learn to love the bombs?

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Originally published: December 18, 2014. Last Updated: December 18, 2014.