St. Louis Cardinals’ Tommy Edman should stop switch-hitting
Tommy Edman could be losing his grasp on the starting job at second base for the St. Louis Cardinals with his woeful spring so far, and it might behoove him to embrace a practice that is slowly gaining traction: giving up switch-hitting.
The most high-profile recent instance of a player ending his switch-hitting attempts and succeeding after that is Baltimore Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins, who broke out last year after deciding to hit solely from the left side.
Giving up switch-hitting isn’t common in major league baseball yet; most hitters who do so have never reached the big leagues. The last major league player before Mullins to stop switch-hitting appears to be Tucker Barnhart in 2019.
St. Louis Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman should abandon switch-hitting if he wants to hold on to a starting job
Edman, though, is different from Mullins and Barnhart in one crucial way: Those two stopped hitting right-handed and took advantage of their stronger left-handed side. Edman is the opposite, showing more aptitude in hitting from the right side.
Edman’s stats show that he has significantly more pop from the right side, hitting six home runs in 157 plate appearances compared to five homers in 534 left-handed plate appearances.
While Edman’s batting average right-handed is six points higher than when he hits left-handed (.267 vs. .261), his BABIP is actually lower from the right side, suggesting there could be a larger discrepancy in batting average if he were given more opportunities to hit right-handed.
The advanced stats back this up, as Edman’s hard-hit percentage against all types of pitches is higher when he hits right-handed. His chase percentage against lefties is also lower than it is against righties. His XWOBA is better against lefties. Pretty much every basic and advanced batting stat shows that he is more apt hitting right-handed.
The fact that Edman is better right-handed could make adapting to hitting from one side more difficult than it was for Mullins since there are more right-handed pitchers in baseball than left-handed ones, meaning he’d face the same handedness more often than Mullins does.
You’d have to deflate some stats because you can longer factor in a matchup advantage in every at-bat, but I’d like to see what Edman could do as a full-time right-handed hitter. Sometimes more unorthodox methods are the key to snapping out of a funk, and while I’ve seen many fans call for Edman’s removal from the leadoff spot, I think a change in how he hits will benefit him and the team more than where he hits.