[image title="Yankees Curtis Granderson" size="full" id="14579" align="center" linkto="full" ]
MGL seems to think so, with the excerpt courtesy of Fangraphs:
In fact, having good overall numbers with a horrible split is a POSITIVE and not a negative! If it turns out that he is truly (true-talent wise after accounting for small sample performance) poor against LHB, then you would be able to platoon him, sit him against tough (high splits) lefties, or pinch hit for him against lefties in high leverage situations, which would provide even MORE value to his team than his overall or historical numbers would suggest!
Basically, MGL (who, for those who do not know, is Mitchel Lichtman, a leading sabermatrician) is suggesting that if you have two players with similar overall numbers, you might prefer the one with the drastic splits because you could then shape his impact through the use of a platoon or pinch hitters. While I believe this does make sense in theory, I have a hard time believing that it holds true in practice. As I am sure you expected, let us use Curtis Granderson as our example.
Curtis had terrible numbers against lefties last season, and his career numbers are not particularly pretty either. The suggestion is that you could platoon him or pinch hit for him in important situations. There are a number of issues with this suggestion. The most obvious is that I find it highly unlikely that the Yankees will do any such thing. Granderson is an All-Star player for whom the Yankees traded a number of younger players with plenty of value. It is extremely unlikely that they did so in order to have him share time with Jaime Hoffman or a Rocco Baldelli type. In fact, I would suggest that the Randy Winn signing makes it clear that they are counting on Kevin Long to help Granderson become at least adequate against lefties, as they spent their last bit of money on a player with neutral platoon splits rather than a Baldelli or Johnson to pair with Granderson. As such, a platoon is unlikely.
Furthermore, even pinch hitting for Granderson in big spots is not particularly likely. The only situation that I could see him being lifted for is if a lefty specialist enters in the 8th inning of a close game. I think Joe Girardi would be loathe to remove Grandy in the 7th inning because he would likely have another at-bat, and that at-bat would almost certainly come against a righty (as most clubs do not have two effective lefties that they would trust in important spots). Furthermore, because most closers are right-handed, there would be limited situations whereby a lefty would be on the mound against the Yankees in a game that they trailed in the 9th. Therefore, there is an extremely limited “advantage” than can be garnered through management of Granderson’s platoon split.
Finally, I think MGL glosses over the fact that there is more to the relevant players than their platoon splits. Granderson is a strong defensive player, and any platoon parter is almost certain to represent a loss of quality in the outfield. As such, it would be better to have a player with neutral splits, as this would allow you to keep his plus glove in the game no matter the situation.
I think that any way you slice it, a large platoon split is a negative when discussing a star player. While it may make sense to platoon or pinch hit for the Gabe Gross types of the world, teams with talents such as Granderson and Ryan Howard will just have to grin and bear it. It would be fantastic if the Yankees can help Granderson turn things around against lefties. If they are unable to do so, we can only hope that Joe Girardi has the backbone to do the right thing and pinch hit for Granderson against tough lefties in extremely crucial spots.
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