Former major league baseball players like Todd Helton have suggested an at-bat against a quality pitcher is the equivalent to playing a chess match against a master champion. It’s a constant battle as hitting is all about timing and the pitcher is trying to disrupt that timing. To great hitters like Todd Helton, it’s all about having the right approach at the plate. And yes, a left-handed hitter has a distinct advantage over their counterparts from the right side of the plate, especially with runners on the base path.
Stepping in Batter’s Box Like Todd Helton
We don’t have enough fingers on our hands to count the number of times former Colorado Rockies slugger Todd Helton lofted a single into right field to knock in the game-winning run in a tight contest. In most cases, it’s an ideal situation for a left-handed hitter to have runners on at the first and second base. It forces the opposition to play a more traditional defense at double-play depth instead of using a shift formation. This forces the first baseman to hold the runner which opens the right side of the infield to a left-handed hitter.
The number of options doubles as the hitter can put the ball through the hole into right field that could score a run or at least make the bases loaded for the next batter. Or the other alternative is having a productive out by hitting a ground ball behind the base runners that moves them into scoring position. The latter is a hard proposition to expect from a right-handed hitter. The analytical numbers show they’re likely to hit the ball in the air rather than to the opposite side of the infield. However, the advantage cancels itself out if the left-handed hitter is undisciplined during their at-bat.
A “Lefty vs Lefty” Matchup Against Todd Helton Isn’t Likely to Happened
Late in tight games, it’s tough for managers to set up a “lefty vs. lefty” matchup against a good hitter like Todd Helton. Usually, a good bullpen is fortunate to have one lefty specialist on their staff. Thus, a left-handed hitter will have the advantage as their likely to see a righthander on the mound in most late-inning hitting situations. Why? Well, lefty hitters have a higher percentage of at-bats against opposite-hand pitching than their counterparts from the right side. So, you better learn to hit right-handers or your playing time will be cut significantly.
The advantage for a left-handed hitter like Todd Helton is having a better view of the baseball coming out of the pitcher’s hand. It helps with gaining timing to hit the ball with the barrel of the bat. A “lefty vs righty” matchup takes a very important pitch away from a righthander. Typically, a slider is one of the main pitches in their repertoire as they love using it against a same-sided hitter because the ball drifts away from the batter onto the outside corner of home plate.
However, this isn’t ideal in a “lefty vs righty” matchup as the slider will coming towards the left-handed hitter in a natural tail. In baseball terms that means the pitch is coming to a hitter’s red hot zone. A left-handed batter like Todd Helton can pull the pitch for power into the gaps or down the right-field line for an extra-base hit. And let’s not forget, quality left-handed hitters like Todd Helton are adept at hitting the baseball to all fields during an at-bat.