Lindbergh: Searching for switch-hitters who shouldn’t switch-hit

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus on February 4, 2014:

Every so often, someone asks me whether there are any switch-hitters who are making a mistake by batting from both sides, or whether a particular hitter would be better off picking and sticking to one side of the plate. There are two reasons, I think, why the question comes up even though there have been BP pieces about it before, and despite the fact very few players have ever stopped switch-hitting after making the majors.

The first is that switch-hitting is inherently interesting to those of us who can barely button a button with our non-dominant hand. Hitting baseballs thrown by big-league pitchers, we’re told, is one of the toughest tasks in sports. Switch-hitters can do it not only from the side of the plate where we look at least a little coordinated, but also from the side where we look like Hunter Pence. There are mutants in the X-Mansion with less impressive powers (like Longneck).

The second is that the subject feeds our need to find inefficiencies. We like to come up with ways in which a team or a player could add wins without paying what they’re worth. What could be more inefficient than a hitter who actively hurts himself by batting from his weaker side? And what could possibly cost less to correct? The idea’s allure makes us sound like those ads you sometimes see on sidebars: Hey, struggling switch-hitter—become a better batter by using this one weird trick!

So do these self-destructive switch-hitters we’re seeking actually exist?

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Originally published: February 4, 2014. Last Updated: February 4, 2014.