Tourtellotte: Do southpaws take longer to mature?

From SABR member Shane Tourtellotte at The Hardball Times on June 20, 2017, with mention of SABR member Frank Jackson:

The road to my question today began half a century ago—or a year and a half ago, depending on how you count it.

The nearer origin was Frank Jackson’s piece in the Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2016, titled, “There’s Always a Reason to Go.” The origin of his essay was a game he attended at the end of the 1966 season, meaningless to the home Phillies but vital to the visiting Dodgers, looking to clinch the pennant. Unknown to virtually everyone at the time, it would become historic for another cause: the last regular-season game Sandy Koufax ever played.

Musing on Koufax’s brilliant but truncated run of glory, Jackson wrote:

He is the ultimate poster boy for all those erratic left-handed pitchers who test the patience of their team’s management. Since southpaws are fewer in number than right-handers and typically take longer to mature, most teams will stick with them longer. No team was rewarded more for its patience that the Dodgers in the later 1950s and early 1960s.

The assertion in the middle sentence has been rattling around in the back of my brain ever since. Left-handed pitchers are clearly more scarce than right-handed pitchers. Whether they take longer to mature is not as clear.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 23, 2017. Last Updated: June 23, 2017.