The Brewers are 52-32 in games where they go up against a right handed starter. However, it appears they have something they like even more than seeing a righty starter on the mound, and it’s a lefty reliever.
RHP vs LHP
While their .619 win percentage against righties compared to their .500 win percentage against lefties would imply they prefer to hit against righties, that doesn’t quite play out in their stat lines.
The Brewers are slashing .225/.313/.385 against righties and .235/.328/.398 against lefties. That’s a 28 point bump in OPS against lefties. But is that because they prefer to hit against lefties or does the league in general just hit better against lefties?
Their .698 OPS against righties is good for 17th in the league, whereas their .726 OPS against lefties is good for 19th. So even though they hit lefties better, they are ranked worse versus the rest of the league against lefties than they are against righties.
Numbers that stand out
As I pour through these numbers on Baseball Reference I notice that there is quite a big jump in the Brewers’ slashline against left handed pitchers compared to left handed starters. Their OPS jumps from .685 against lefty starters to .726 against lefties overall. Now I know the three batter minimum has changed how lefties are used out of the bullpen these days, but I figured a 41 point jump in OPS is extreme when the sample size boosting it up is significantly smaller than the one dragging it down.
Unfortunately, Baseball Reference doesn’t give the numbers for platoon splits versus relievers. But they do have overall platoon splits and platoon splits versus starters. So it’s time for some basic math!
When you subtract all the numbers put up against lefty starters from the numbers put up against lefties overall you wind up with a few jarring numbers. The first thing that stands out is the 43:40 K:BB ratio. That 1.08:1 ratio is a drastic improvement from their overall ratio of 2.55:1. Matter of fact, they have drawn a walk in an absurd 25.2% of their plate appearances versus lefty relievers.
Then when you add up the slashline, you see why there’s such a jump in OPS. Against left handed relievers the Brewers slash .285/.462/.491 for an OPS of .953. For comparison, that’s the same OPS that All-Star firstbaseman Matt Olson has this year, which is 8th best in the league.
That explains how, even though only 16.6% of their plate appearances versus lefties have come against relievers, they managed to raise their overall OPS versus lefties 41 points against them.
Why the discrepancy?
So why can’t they hit lefty starters? No clue. Lack of sample size perhaps? They’ve only gone against 22 of them this year compared to 84 righties. But one thing is for sure, if the lefty is coming out of the pen, he’s in trouble.