NPB left in the lurch

This is the third part of an observation of how NPB’s hitting populations are different from how they are in the majors.

After Tom Tango (@tangotiger) commented that the populations of left-handed and right-handed hitters in MLB are essentially the same when batting with the platoon advantage since 2011, I began looking at NPB that way, comparing performances only with the platoon advantage.

In the previous studies, I excluded foreign hitters, switch hitters and pitchers (sorry Shohei). To get a broader look at how MLB and NPB compare left to right, I’ve included everyone.

Big numbers

Org.LHB+ PARHB+ PALHB+ Percentage
NPB233,586286,96944.9
MLB629,795846,83542.7
LHB+ includes switch hitters batting against RHP, while RHB+ includes switch hitters batting against LHP.

The table below show how similar MLB’s left- and right-handed hitting populations are with the platoon advantage since 2011. Right across the board, the slash lines for hitters with platoon advantages are about as close as you can get.

MLB LHB, RHB with platoon advantage, 2011-2018

 PAABH2B3BHRBBKBAOBPSLGOPSHBPSF
RHB+286,427256,01966,60613,7371,1968,31624,65256,712.260.328.421.7481,9231,856
LHB+511,532454,808117,17123,6082,97214,27147,03399,412.258.330.417.7473,6723,305
These numbers came from Baseball Reference.

While the home run frequency in NPB is significantly lower all around, it is particularly obvious among batters swinging from the left side of the plate. The isolated power (slugging average minus batting average) of RHBs and switch hitters vs LHP is .139. For LHBs and switch hitters vs RHP, the isolated power is .111.

NPB LHB, RHB with platoon advantage, 2011-2018

 PAABH2B3BHRBBKBAOBPSLGOPSHBPSF
RHB+91,49480,28620,4223,7652982,2797,77916,373.254.323.394.717667521
LHB+177,531156,91740,9976,7929802,86814,93430,842.261.329.372.7001,281968
Results of individual plate appearances by LHB and switch hitters vs RHP, and RHB and switch hitters vs LHB in NPB from 2011 to 2018

Playing the percentages

The following table shows how left-handed hitters with a platoon edge compare percentage-wise with right-handed hitters. The categories are: Singles, doubles, triples and home runs as a percentage of hits, strikeouts as a percentage of plate appearances, and at-bats per home run.

MLB percentages

MLB1B pct2B pct3B pctHR pctK pctHR rate
RHB+.65.21.018.125.19830.8
LHB+.65.20.025.122.19431.9
Percentage of total hits by: singles, doubles, triples, home runs. Strikeouts per PA. ABs per HR.

NPB percentages

NPB1B pct2B pct3B pctHR pctK pctHR rate
RHB+.690.184.015.112.17935.2
LHB+.741.166.024.070.17454.7
Percentage of total hits by: singles, doubles, triples, home runs. Strikeouts per PA. ABs per HR.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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