Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 4/24/12

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.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Seahawks’ Frank Clark rips Cam Newton ‘that boy a b—‘

Report: Tom Thibodeau has 'always wanted' Knicks job

Report: Luke Walton will not consider coaching offers until offseason

Budweiser: Peyton Manning not paid for Super Bowl beer plug

Archie Manning: 'I think Peyton's done in Denver'

Donald Trump: I told Tom Brady not to endorse me for President

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Marshawn Lynch: Complicated and talented NFL anti-hero

Hue Jackson lets Manziel and ex know they aren’t alone

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

Tyronn Lue faces backlash for Cavs record since Blatt’s firing

Report: LeSean McCoy assaulted off duty Philly police officers

John Elway was right, the Broncos didn’t need a Plan B

Attorney alleges Johnny Manziel ruptured ex-girlfriend's eardrum

Jeanie Buss may clean house in Lakers’ front office

Lisa Ann wants to reward Emmanuel Sanders for Super Bowl win

WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan to announce retirement

Nine best and worst players from 2015 NFL playoffs

Rodman wants Phil Jackson to know he’s ready to coach Knicks

Wade Phillips trolls Cam Newton with dabbing tweet

Top defensive performances in Super Bowl history

FBI questions Jeremy Shockey about drug and gambling ring

Coldplay drummer thought Johnny Football was real name

Ranking every game from 2015 NFL Playoffs

PHOTO: Panthers LB shows gruesome arm injury after SB

Patriots, Panthers early Super Bowl 51 favorites

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Knicks fire coach Derek Fisher

The best and worst commercials from Super Bowl 50

Best and worst from Super Bowl 50

Six best plays from Super Bowl 50

Eli doesn't look thrilled as Peyton wins Super Bowl

Did Beyonce almost fall down during Super Bowl halftime show?

Curry to serve as drummer for Panthers

Report: Marshawn Lynch plans to retire

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Five outrageous predictions for Super Bowl 50

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker