Orioles: The Interesting Case of Adley Rutschman as a Switch Hitter
Orioles’ rookie Adley Rutschman has a clear hitting preference.
We are now 52 games into Adley Rutschman‘s rookie season with the Orioles, and we have seen the effect of his prowess behind the plate. The Orioles are in contention for a Wild Card spot and are now contenders in the prominent AL East. His overall statistics show that his overall OPS, .774, and OBP, .338 would rank 4th in MLB for Catchers, but what is far more interesting are his splits at the plate.
Every switch hitter has a stronger side, and every switch-hitting batter sees pitches better from one side over the other. What is interesting with Rutschman is that his splits show that he is stronger against left-handed starters and weaker against left-handed relievers. Against left-handed starters, his slash line in 17 games is .340/.433/.580 with an OPS of 1.013. Against all lefties (starters and relievers) – .188/.298/.271 with an OPS of .569. Now 17 games is a small sample size, but compared to his numbers on the opposite side of the plate – Against right-handed starters in 35 games – .202/.290/.380 with an OPS of .679. Against all righties (starters and relievers) – .263/.353/.496 with an OPS of .850.
At the 17-game mark of his career, the slash line was .190/.261/.286 with an OPS of .567. At the 34-game mark, the slash line was .206/.270/.381 with an OPS of .651, and at the 52-game mark, .240/.338/.436 with an OPS of .774.
Another interesting split is his BABIP on the right and left side of the plate. The BABIP measures how often a non-homerun batted ball falls in for a base hit. These are also known as “balls in play.”.
As a left-handed batter, facing right-handed pitching, his overall AVG is .260 with a BABIP of .282, and as a right-handed batter facing left-handed pitching, his overall AVG is .188 with a BABIP of .265.
What the BABIP tells us is that as a batter, Adley’s a far better hitter as a lefty, because of the quality of the hits off the bat. As a lefty, he is far more inclined to make solid contact at a higher consistency, and at this point in his career, with more power. All of his home runs have come from the left side of the plate.
We need to see more plate appearances to accurately see what Adley can do from the right side of the plate, but what we can safely assume is that he is a natural left-handed hitter. Why is that important? Oriole Park at Camden Yards is only 318 feet down the line to right field. Oh, and all of Adley’s home runs have come from the left side.