This is my first real attempt at a coherent Fan Post, so try to have a little bit of grace. Still, I welcome constructive criticism. Enjoy!
After the Mariners' 8-2 win over the Twins on Thursday night, I was quite ecstatic. Like the typical fickle fan, I believed that the Mariners were back for good, so I bought a pair of tickets for Friday's game and brought my little brother along so he could experience "King Fewix", as he so eloquently put it.
Well, in lieu of an enjoyable Mariner's win, we were instead treated to the same old story of Felix dominating and the Mariners losing a winnable game. Throughout the process of losing, I asked myself questions about numerous puzzling things such as why The Bartender came in as a reliever before Mr. Medina, why in Lord Buddha's name Michael Saunders didn't pinch-run for Kendrys Morales, a new rule in baseball where apparently you can drop the ball and still get the runner out, and of course why the Mariners didn't win 2-1 in 9 innings.
Needless to say, I left the ballpark in the top of the 13th (little siblings can't handle more than 9 innings very well) with a bad taste in my mouth. Although this was somewhat offset by my brother's perfect little-kid-comment about one of Oliver Perez' 3-0 counts. He yelled at the top of his lungs: "Stop balling him!". Kids these days...
Still, above all of that, one particular thing in the box score stood out to me:
Justin Smoak: 0-5, 1 BB
Now obviously I'm not basing this post on one game, SSS and all, but take a look at Smoak's platoon splits below (courtesy of fangraphs).
Vs. Righties: .294/.397/.492
Vs. Lefties: .175/.267/.213
I mean, we all know he struggles against lefties, but even I didn't realize the difference was this stark.
A deeper look at the numbers reveals something quite interesting:
Vs. Righties: BB%: 13.7% K%: 21.5%
Vs. Lefties: BB%: 11.1% K%: 26.7%
Against lefties, Smoak's K% jumps up quite a bit, and his walk rate goes down a touch. All the while, his BABIP against LHPs is .250 while against RHPs it jumps up a whole hundred points to .351.
So, Smoak could be due for some (albeit not a drastic amount of it) positive and negative regression, but could the underlying issue simply be that Smoak isn't seeing the ball as well from the right side of the plate? It would help explain the strikeout and walk rate discrepancies. If this is the case, if you're Eric Wedge (or Robby Thompson), do you keep rolling Smoak out there and hope that he comes around on the right side? Or do you tell him to scrap it and just hit lefty?
I personally would prefer for Smoak to try and figure it out due to the abundance of LHHs in the lineup, and our lack of a right-handed power bat, but I think there's an argument to be made for both sides. I certainly don't want to see many more 'Oh for Five' nights by Smoak on a night where Felix throws an utter gem.
I've included a poll below where you can vote, because that's what you do with polls.