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left leaning

last i checked, the cardinals were winning the 2006 world series vs the indians, 132-90. head over to Minor League Ball and see if they can make that lead stand up.

i learned a few things the other day perusing juan encarnacion's batted-ball charts and decided to check out same for the other new outfielder, larry bigbie . . . damned if i didn't learn a few more things. as before, i only looked at bigbie's home games due to limitations of the charting tool's sort-search feature; also as before, the images are regrettably blurry. here's where his extra-base hits at camden yards landed during his 3+ years there:

big cluster of doubles down the left-field line, nother one in left-center; turns out bigbie poked 22 doubles to the opposite field while ripping only 15 to his "natural" power field, ie right. also, 11 of his 14 hr at camden yards left the park between the power alleys, while only three flew over that venue's short right-field fence. now take a look at the guy's distribution of flyball outs -- again, ~3 years' worth:

nearly all of bigbie's power is to the opposite field; he very rarely drives the ball to right. i hadn't realized he was that type of a hitter. these charts suggest an open stance and an inside-out, make-contact type of swing, which seems to clash with the high strikeout totals and hint of power in bigbie's career line. i looked at bigbie's charts for the other ballparks in the al east, just to see if they showed the same distribution; they did -- most of the xbh between the gaps, a majority of doubles the other way, and nary a warning-track flyout to right.

i got so curious i had to download a game via and take a look at this guy. he's tall and thin, a steve finley build, and hits out of slightly open stance with knees flexed and elbows aloft; holds the bat high above his shoulder and angled 15 degrees or so above horizontal. he took about 10 cuts in five at-bats in this particular game and got a couple of hits -- both of them, naturally, to right center, and both on inside pitches that he lofted over the second baseman. bigbie also fouled half a dozen pitches off, all to the left side. he does indeed swing inside-out, but he swings hard; he's not just up there flicking his wrists, trying to make contact.

i trolled around briefly to see if i could find another left-handed batter whose distribution of xbh and flyballs leans as heavily to port as bigbie's does. focused on high-average, gap-power types -- ichiro, sean casey, johnny damon, juan pierre, marcus giles, brad wilkerson; also took a peek at edmonds, who has such tremendous power the other way. the only guy whose chart looked even remotely like bigbie's was mark kotsay; like bigbie he hits more (and deeper) flyball outs to left field than to right. but kotsay still pulls most of his xbh to right field.

the strong left-field bias is absent from bigbie's spread of singles; those he sprays around. but on the whole he appears to be a pretty unusual hitter. you wonder if his struggles in 2005 reflect an adjustment on the part of the league; maybe they started pitching him inside more regularly, challenging him to turn on the ball.

bears watching.