Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 10/28/14

In the top of the fifth of what became an extra-inning win last Friday night, the Giants were ahead a run. Barry Zito was 100 pitches in and had been lucky to escape the top of the fifth with one run after he allowed two singles, a walk and a home run. Manager Bruce Bochy therefore sent the team’s best available right-handed hitter to the plate to pinch hit for his starter.

Matt Cain.

In the top of the ninth inning of what became a walk-off loss last Saturday night, the Giants needed any run they could get. Once Terry Collins put the Mets’ best left-hander on the mound, Tim Byrdak, lefty Brandon Crawford didn’t perhaps provide the Giants with their best chance. Bruce Bochy sent one of his two remaining right-handed hitters to the plate — backup catcher Hector Sanchez. The Giants ended up tying the game, and needed a middle infielder with Crawford out. With Manny Burriss already in the game, Bruce Bochy moved Burriss to shortstop and put his best remaining option at second base.

Aubrey Huff.

Both of these iconic moments, coming on consecutive days, made for some mirth on the internet. Much of it was unearned, really — Ryan Theriot was sick with the flu and couldn’t make the trip to New York. As a right-handed middle infielder, he would have solved both situations.

On the other hand, both situations were brought on, at least partially, by the left-handers facing the Giants on the mound. In the search for a right-handed bat to face those lefties, Bochy had to turn to Cain (.147 career wOBA) and Sanchez (.277 career wOBA, .282 rest-of-season projected ZiPs wOBA) in important moments. The Giants have the second-worst wRC+ against left-handers in the National League (56, the Pirates have a 55). The titular question seems fair: are the Giants too lefty-heavy?

Last year, no team had fewer at-bats that featured their right-handed hitter against a left-handed pitcher. The Pirates and the Giants had 545 of those situations. The Padres, at 1357, found the platoon advantage more often than any other National League team. The Giants achieved those matchups 60% less often than the league leader. This year, they once again find themselves behind the mean, even if the short sample so far means that the schedule may not have evened out yet.

But how does this jive with the Giants’ actual roster construction? Are there actually more lefties on the team that are skewing the results, and is the bench full of southpaws? Unclear:

11 RHBvLHP 12 RHBvLHP #LHB #LHB, Bench SDN 1357 164 5 2 HOU 1230 120 4 1 NYN 1159 86 6 1 FLO 1119 94 3 2 COL 1089 146 4 2 CHN 1073 53 6 2 ARI 1038 117 4 1 LAN 1011 133 5 2 PHI 1007 113 5 3 ATL 981 120 6 2 MIL 965 118 5 3 SLN 958 94 5 2 WAS 948 62 4 2 CIN 895 124 3 1 PIT 545 121 4 1 SFN 545 99 5 2 AVE NL 995 110.25 4.625 1.8125

The Giants are no more lefty-heavy than your average National League team.

And yet, there’s still the fact of those missing righty-vs-lefty matchups. How does that happen? Perhaps it has something to do with exactly how the roster is constructed. One thing that the Pirates and Giants had in common last year was that they featured two lefty first basemen (Lyle Overbay and Garrett Jones). The Giants are currently sporting Brandon Belt and Aubrey Huff and have a somewhat random plan for their use. With righty Brett Pill in the fold, they’re using three men to fill the job of a two-man platoon role.

Another way of saying it: The Giants have some righties on the bench, but they come in the form of players at premium defensive positions: Hector Sanchez, Manny Burriss and Ryan Theriot. There isn’t a league-average bat in the group. Which is how you end up with Brandon Belt pinch-hitting against Antonio Bastardo — if he’s your best bat on the bench, the platoon advantage goes out the window.

The team probably could have used a right-handed bat-first piece on the bench that day — maybe in Gregor Blanco‘s spot — but they didn’t have him, and possibly because there are two lefty first basemen on this team. Which brings us back to the Huff/Belt quandary.

The Giants aren’t too lefty-heavy. That doesn’t mean that their roster is perfectly platoon-ready around the edges.


MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: WWE officials believe Brock Lesnar is returning to UFC

Lovie Smith denies Bucs tanked to secure #1 pick in 2015 Draft

Report: Jets will fire Rex Ryan, GM John Idzik on Monday

Braxton Miller has 'expressed interest' in Duke transfer?

Jim Harbaugh, 49ers mutually part ways

Mike Wallace benched for disciplinary reasons

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Browns owner sends stern message to Johnny Manziel

Report: Ray Allen is leaning toward retirement

Ravens clinch playoff spot

DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant set Cowboys records in win

Report: Browns feel Josh Gordon 'has to go'

Jets contacted Rex Ryan's agent about replacements for him

10 takeaways from NFL Week 17

WATCH: Mike Tomlin goes after Reggie Nelson after game

WATCH: Ndamukong Suh steps on Aaron Rodgers

Nation's top recruit says he won't follow Jim Harbaugh

Eric Decker's wife was concerned about hubby's groin

WATCH: Lamar Miller has longest run in Dolphins history

WATCH: Pats fans serenade Pete Frates with 'Happy Birthday'

Harbaugh rumors affecting Mich. basketball ticket prices?

WATCH: Dez Bryant burns Redskins defender for TD

Detroit bar offering free food, booze if Lions beat Packers

Jameis Winston: I would throw in Richard Sherman's direction

WATCH: Nebraska safety pukes on field, keeps playing

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Brock Lesnar returning to UFC?

WATCH: Suh steps on Aaron Rodgers

Browns owner sends message to Manziel

Ray Allen leaning toward retirement?

Ravens clinch playoff spot

Murray, Bryant set team records

Pats fans serenade Pete Frates

Browns to part ways with Josh Gordon?

Manziel was late after throwing party?

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans

Harbaugh to Mich. is done deal

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence supports Louisville with chant

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.