To begin the 2022 season, Brewers manager Craig Counsell elected to shake up his batting order when facing left handed pitchers. The initial lineups included dropping Kolton Wong out of the leadoff spot and replacing him with Andrew McCutchen. Other changes included opting to play Tyrone Taylor over Lorenzo Cain as well as Keston Hiura over Rowdy Tellez.
If there is anything we know about Craig Counsell, it is that the lineup will vary drastically over the course of the season. There also is rationale behind a lot of his moves. For instance, his goal when facing left handed pitchers is to get as many right handed bats in as possible. With doing this, he placed players such as McCutchen, Renfroe, and Taylor at the top part of the order. He did this because they historically have hit lefties well.
Some of the changes were also puzzling. For instance, Kolton Wong had one of the best batting averages in lefty vs lefty matchups last season, but yet he initially dropped to seventh. Additionally, Keston Hiura has not had favorable outcomes against southpaws. Despite this, he has been getting the nod over left handed batter Rowdy Tellez.
In this article, we are going to take a further look at if Rowdy Tellez should see more at-bats against left handed pitchers.
To begin the 2022 season, Counsell essentially has Hiura and Tellez platooning at first base. Hiura had a terrific spring training and ended up playing his way onto the major league roster. From that standpoint it makes sense to initially give him a shot against lefties for he earned the opportunity. Additionally, it is extremely difficult for Hiura to otherwise see playing time. Every other position, including designated hitter, has players that are going to hit the field nearly every day no matter the situation.
The question I am going to look into is if playing Hiura over Tellez is the best choice. Hiura’s stats show that he is a much more productive hitter when facing right handed pitchers. On the other hand, Tellez has some favorable career splits when facing an opposing pitcher of the same hand. Over 244 plate appearances, Tellez has a .266 batting average. Of his 59 hits, 24 have gone for extra bases and 15 times he drew a free pass. He certainly has proven to be effective in these situations.
Interestingly enough, when Tellez was with the Blue Jays many fans were insisting that he get more at bats against left handed pitchers too. So far, Tellez has proven in Milwaukee that he can be a force in the middle of the lineup no matter who is on the mound. One particular moment that stands out is last years walk-off hit against the San Francisco Giants lefty Jarlin Garcia.
It will be interesting to see how Craig Counsell manages this going forward. This early in the season split opportunities are likely to continue for a while. However, Brewer fans should find comfort in knowing that Tellez is capable of performing against left handed pitching matchups should the opportunity more consistently arise.
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