Penning Bull – September 17 – Jason Heyward Against Lefties (Excerpt)

The first edition of Penning Bull went out to subscribers early this morning. Here’s a brief excerpt.

Against lefties, though, he’s disastrously bad. Heyward’s 76.9 wOBA+ against them ranks him 196th of the 205 batters who have registered 300 or more plate appearances against lefties this year. Perpetua has a stat called Value Hits, which are basically batted balls with the ideal combinations of exit velocity and launch angle. They tend very strongly not only to be hits, but to go for extra bases. A mere 0.9 percent of Heyward’s batted balls against lefties have been Value Hits this year, a rate lower than all but seven other batters who have seen them at least 100 times—and five of those guys make up for their lack of quality contact against southpaws the way Heyward does against righties, by avoiding strikeouts and forcing the defense to make plays.

The Cubs have two tough weeks of work ahead just to reach the playoffs, but their divisional lead has swelled back to four games, so let’s assume (for the sake of argument) that they get to a Division Series against the Nationals. Gio Gonzalez would start one of those games. Sean Doolittle and (in all likelihood) one of Enny Romero and Matt Grace will be waiting in the Washington bullpen. If the Cubs want to get far into October again this year, they need to be ready to bench Heyward against left-handed starters, and to pinch-hit for him when a lefty reliever comes in. The gap between what Heyward and Albert Almora (113.0 xOBA+ against lefties) bring to those plate appearances will be large enough to swallow the pinch-hitter penalty whole, with room left over for the defensive value difference.

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