Garrett Jones is Hot Right Now but He Still Struggles Against Lefties


It might seem counterintuitive to say that Garrett Jones is getting victimized and Mike Redmond should take him out of his misery, he does currently have a .281/.351/.509 triple slash line with 8 HR and .369 wOBA.  He has been key to powering the Marlins unlikely power surge in 2014.  But as  suggested by many during the offseason the better solution would be to partner Jones in a righty/lefty platoon with Jeff Baker.

Jones’ other peripheral stats his .342 BABIP and 15.7% HR/FB are out of his usual career range which are probably unsustainable in the long run. Jones is an extreme left-handed pull hitter.  Against right-handed pitching he is more able to pull pitches in the inner half of the strike zone and hit them hard.  The ability of pull conscious left-handed batters to hit balls low and inside hard to right field against righties is how they make their money.

The chart below shows Jones’ spray of balls put in play and home runs against right handed pitching.

Source: FanGraphs

If you notice almost all of Jones’ line drives and home runs are hit to right field or right center field. He is able to generate power but only to the pull field against right handed pitchers.

When facing left-handed pitchers  Jones’ all-star like .948 OPS and 156 wRC+ shrink to a significantly below average .195/.267/.220  slash line with .024 ISO and a .229 wOBA.

This trend can simply be explained by citing one chart that is worth much more than a 1000 word article/

Teams in the NL know that Jones can’t hit the ball hard the other way against left-handed pitching and also know that he doesn’t have much plate discipline and even less against lefties so he is willing to chase pitches outside of the zone to try and be productive.   The preponderance of pitches away are fastballs and sliders. Both of which are pitches that are  hard for hitters to square up when they’re moving away in the zone.

Isolated power, is a good measure of how well a player is hitting for extra bases because it measures the difference of total bases to base hits a player compiles.  ISO is calculated by subtracting  batting average from slugging percentage. Jones’  .024 ISO against lefties is tied with Alejandro De Aza for worst in baseball

The chart below shows the 20 worst left-handed hitters against left-handed pitching so far in 2014.

[table id=40 /]

It is one thing to hit slightly worse against one kind of pitcher than another but such extreme platoon splits are unacceptable.

Jeff Baker might only have 48 PA so far this year against lefties but he has far more successful than Jones and it is easy to argue that if he is given regular at bats as a platoon first baseman he could further improve upon his .729 OPS, .323 wOBA and 8.3% walk rate.  A sign of good hitter is to be able to hit to all fields and Baker is able to do so against left handed pitching in limited time

Another case for plugging Jeff Baker into the lineup against lefties is his solid 2 strike approach along with a 1.036 OPS in small sample size with men in scoring position.  The Marlins strikeout too much with Salty, Ozuna and Jones in the lineup.  It would be good to have a good contact hitter in the lineup

The Marlins might be wildly over performing expectations at the moment even with Garrett Jones as the full time first baseman but setting up a platoon would improve their chances of scoring runs from the first base position in the long run.