Has Pat Burrell Lost Ability To Hit Left Handed Pitching?

This is not meant to be another one of those "Pat Burrell has been a disappointment this season" pieces; at least that was not my intention. Even though I am thoroughly enjoying the recent power surge out of Pat's bat (.288 ISO/.513 SLG in last 89 plate appearances), I can't help but notice the lack of power, or any production for that matter, that Burrell is showing against left handed pitching.

The Rays had few weaknesses headed into last offseason. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, was a right handed power bat that specializes in mashing left handed pitchers. Insert Pat Burrell who is right handed and owned a career slash line of .276/.410/.540 against lefties headed into this season. The match almost looked too perfect on paper; so far it been anything but perfect.

Burrell's line against right handers has taken a hit from a career .251/.362/.467 before the season down to .235/.311/.456 in 2009. His line against lefties has just absolutely plummeted. PtB is hitting just .210/.366/.259 with zero home runs against lefties this year; that's nearly lefty on lefty bad. I have no idea where the power against lefties has gone, but I thought I could find a reason for the other forms of hits.

At first glance, I would say that Burrell's BABIP splits might part of the reason for the down numbers in base hits or extra base hits (excluding homer) against lefties, but it's not true. While Burrell's overall BABIP is down to .277 from a career average of .302, his BABIP of lefties suggests no "bad luck." He's actually been less "lucky" against righties with a .265 BABIP, but against lefties he has .304 BABIP.

Looking back to 2008 in which his BABIP overall was a similar .275, those splits were .251 vs. righties and .316 vs. lefties. The 12 points against south paws isn't a big deal, but the slash lines are. Once again, Burrell is hitting .210/.366/.259 with four extra base hits (all doubles) against them this year. In 2008, he hit .272/.406/.545 with 25 extra base hits including seven home runs. There is a bit of a sample size adjustment (101 PA in 09 to 192 in 08), but no where near enough to explain the difference.

Much like the rest of Burrell's season it's a bit late to make up for lost time. Nonetheless it's been nice to see recent signs of life from Burrell regardless of the handiness of the opposing pitcher. While I hope that continues, if there was ever a call for regression to the mean, it would be Pat's bat heating up against lefties over the final six weeks.

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