Atlanta Braves: Ozzie Albies Should Stop Switch Hitting
As a right-handed batter, the Atlanta Braves' Ozzie Albies has always been a monster. In his career hitting against lefties. the 2B has a 148 wRC+, essentially meaning he's Edgar Martinez at the plate. But as a lefty, it's a completely different story.
This is not a new revelation. Countless articles have been written about Ozzie Albies and his drastic splits as a switch-hitter. But is giving up switch-hitting this far along into his major league career even an option? Has it worked for the players who have?
Why Ozzie Albies should stop switch-hitting
Simply put, Ozzie Albies is a much better hitter as a right-handed batter than he is as a left-handed batter. While the 2B has netted two Silver Sluggers in his career, both seasons have been heavily reliant on his right-handed hitting abilities.
Since breaking into the league in 2017, Albies has slashed .337/.364/.584 in 762 PAs (148 wRC+). In 2110 PAs as a lefty, the 2B has slashed .245/.304/.429, good for a 91 wRC+.
In fact, the only things Albies does better as a lefty than he does as a righty are walk more and hit fewer grounders. The All-Star switch-hitter hits the ball harder, strikes out less, hits more line drives, and has fewer infield popups.
In 2023, his splits have been even more drastic. His wRC+ as a righty is 246. His wRC+ as a lefty is 46. This wRC+ gap is higher than Sean Murphy and Ronald Acuña Jr.'s total wRC+s this season.
MLB players who stopped switch-hitting
Believe it or not, there have been a seven players who have dropped switch-hitting in recent history. Some have even dropped it further into their careers than Ozzie at this stage in his career.
And while some have gone on to extend their careers by solely focusing on batting from one side of the plate, others went back to switch-hitting very soon after stopping. Let's look at seven players who stopped batting from both sides.
The Orioles' CF first reached the majors in 2018 as a switch hitter, but didn't start getting consistent playing time until the shortened 2020 season.
In his first three seasons, he slashed .225/.290/.391, which was only good for a 72 wRC+. Of course, this is dragged down by his terrible 2019 season, where he came to the plate 74 times and only reached base 13 times. In 2020, he had a reasonable .271/.315/.407 slash line.
When breaking down his 2020 season, however, it's clear why Mullins quit switch hitting. As a righty, he only slashed .171/.216/.286, good for a 32 wRC+. As a lefty, he slashed /.305/.348/.448, making him 16% better than a league average hitter.
That offseason, the Orioles announced Mullins would be hitting exclusively from the left side, and it's worked. Since 2021, the CF has a 122 wRC+ and even took home a Silver Slugger in 2021 after a 30/30 season.
The former Phillies All-Star switch hit from his major league debut in 2003 up until midseason in 2013. While the Flyin' Hawaiian had peaked in 2011 with a 132 wRC+, by 2013, he was beginning to fade.
In 2012, he had a 94 wRC+ and through May 20, 2013, he had a 99 wRC+. However, after a lingering hamstring injury made hitting left-handed tough, he decided to hit exclusively from the right side.
For the remainder of the season, Victorino caught fire. He slashed .331/.401/.583, good for a 170 wRC+. Against righties as a righty, he had a 148 wRC+, whereas he only had a 90 wRC+ as a lefty.
Victorino never hit left-handed again. For his career, his wRC+ was 93 against righties, no matter which side of the plate he was hitting from, and a 130 wRC+ hitter against lefties.
The speedster you probably forgot was an Atlanta Brave came up as a switch-hitter, but hitting was never something Billy Hamilton excelled at. Aside from his brief 22 PA cup of coffee in 2013, Hamilton's career-best wRC+ was the 79 wRC+ he put up in his rookie season. After the 2020 season, his career wRC+ was 67, second-worst among MLB qualified hitters in that times span.
Hamilton broke camp with the White Sox's opening day roster in 2021 and in his first 75 PAs, was slashing .217/.247/.406, good for a 71 wRC+. Unfortunately, he injured his oblique and when he came back, the pain he experienced swinging from the left side was enough to convince him to start to hitting from solely the right side.
For the remainder of the season, Billy Hamilton slashed .224/.237/.345, good for a 53 wRC+. Despite this, on the season, Hamilton was nearly league average as a righty (99 wRC+), and severely below average as a lefty (24 wRC+).
The speedster has only been given 25 PAs at the major league level since and only recorded one hit. He's also hit poorly in the minors. It's hard to say whether focusing on one side of the plate worked for Hamilton because he's always been a bad hitter.
Hilariously, throughout his career, Hamilton has actually been a better hitter as a lefty (69 wRC+) than as a righty (58 wRC+ against lefties and 36 wRC+ against righties as a righty).
If you've tuned into any Yankees game over the past eight years, you might have noticed Aaron Hicks taking a bunch of walks from both sides of the plate.
However, for a few weeks in 2014, Hicks actually gave up switch-hitting, citing a lack of confidence from the left side. At the time, his OPS against righties was only .546, while his OPS against lefties was .735.
After less than a month, Hicks was back to hitting lefty, with his manager noting he wasn't comfortable hitting right-handed against right-handed pitching. During that month, his results against righties was actually worse than his left-handed ABs, OPSing .521.
For his career, Hicks has been a 103 wRC+ hitter against lefties as a righty, 94 wRC+ hitter as a lefty, and a 73 wRC+ hitter as a righty against righties. It's only 25 PAs, but Hicks continuing to switch hit might have been the better option.
Pablo Sandoval's experimentation with only hitting left-handed didn't last long. In 2015, Sandoval was horrible from the right side of the plate, going just 2-41, and stopped switch-hitting that May.
He was much better as a lefty against lefties that year, but a 59 wRC+ is only good when it's compared to the -72 wRC+ he had as a righty.
Sandoval returned to switch hitting the following season, but remained a much better left-handed hitter. He had a 120 wRC+ against righties compared to a 83 wRC+ as a right-handed hitter in his career.
J.T. Snow came up to the bigs in 1992, and switch-hit up until 1998, before giving up hitting right-handed, though not without a fight.
Snow was a miserable right-handed hitter. In 1997, for instance, he only OPS'd .559 against left-handed pitching, compared to the 1.011 OPS he had as lefty.
For the seasons after giving up switch-hitting, Snow was much better as a lefty against lefties than he was as a righty, even OPSing .811 in 89 PAs in 2002.
Reggie Jefferson switch hit up until the 1994 season. In 1993, the season prior to going exclusively left-handed, Jefferson only OPS'd .545 as a righty, compared to .738 as a lefty. For the remainder of his career, the DH would OPS .632 against lefties as a lefty. While this would still be below average, it was a significant improvement as a righty.