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The Kelly Shoppach Platoon Split Post

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Sometimes in our eagerness to imagine, we lose sight of the facts and reasonability. In retrospect these occasions become laughable and a bit embarrassing. With such, Kelly Shoppach's platoon splits and the reaction to seek out a platoon partner pop to mind and bears a resemblance to the  thought shared in the afterglow of Matt Joyce's acquisition.  We try so hard to make every aspect of the roster perfect that something obvious scatters undetected.

First, a general exercise.

Each catcher whom received at least 300 plate appearances was noted. So too were his career platoon OPS. Ideally these numbers would be contained in a smaller time period as to give us an idea of the true talent level, but in the interest of time, this is what we have to deal with.

The results showed that switch hitters held a very small platoon split (.764 OPS versus lefties, .765 versus righties) which makes sense; if they were extremely weak from one side why would their organizations allow them to continue? Left-handed batting catchers hit .842 against righties and .725 against lefties and right-handed batting catchers hit .804 against lefties and .722 against righties.

Shoppach not only holds the most extreme split (positive or negatively), but the only split over .200 points. That alone essentially guarantees regression. There is an excruciatingly slim chance Shoppach is an outlier to such degrees (the standard deviation is 0.065, the mean is .1; Shoppach is exactly three deviations from the mean). 

Now to the good stuff, this courtesy of The Book:

Recalling the "regression" section of the Toolshed chapter, we find that a right-handed hitter's platoon split is best estimated with a weighted average in which his platoon split is weighted by the number of lefties he has faced, and the league average is weighted by 2200.

In other words, a righty who has 2200 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers will be regressed exactly halfway toward the league-average. For a lefty, the number is about 1000 (due to the larger variation in platoon skills).

For this part of the drill, the following slash lines will be used:

Average RHB v. RHP: .257/.319/.407

Shoppach v. RHP: .224/.308/.396

Average RHB v. LHP: .269/.347/.430

Shoppach v. LHP: .295/.386/.614

Shoppach has 785 plate appearances against righties and 258 versus lefties, so yeah, there's some regressing to do; roughly 90% against southpaws and 56% against righties.  That gives him a true talent OPS against lefties of .799 and .719 against righties. Assuming something like 450 plate appearances with 60% coming against righties, Shoppach would project for a wOBA around .333 - knock a few points down for park, age, and maybe even AL East - and you still have a catcher that will be hitting around league average - something fewer than half those catchers with 300+ plate appearances accomplished.

Shoppach may not evoke the playing spirit of Johnny Bench. The thing is. He won't be a regular Johnny on the bench either.


Somewhat fun fact: Shoppach's bat was worth 24 more runs than Navarro's last season. That is equal to the gap between Yuniesky Betancourt and Matt Wieters. Or Juan Pierre and Kendry Morales. Or Ryan Braun and Albert Pujols ... Pujols is unfair.

The data from the 29 catchers:


Carlos Ruiz R 0.727 0.712
Miguel Montero L 0.792 0.774
Jorge Posada B 0.877 0.852
Ryan Doumit B 0.758 0.786
Rod Barajas R 0.714 0.684
Victor Martinez B 0.848 0.815
Jason Kendall R 0.779 0.744
Ramon Hernandez R 0.78 0.729
Geovany Soto R 0.851 0.794
Kurt Suzuki R 0.681 0.744
Yadier Molina R 0.741 0.672
Jason Varitek B 0.828 0.759
Mike Napoli R 0.908 0.832
Josh Bard B 0.771 0.695
Omir Santos R 0.616 0.7
Ivan Rodriguez R 0.846 0.749
A.J. Pierzynski L 0.661 0.781
Bengie Molina R 0.813 0.692
Dioner Navarro B 0.77 0.641
Brian McCann L 0.761 0.892
Matt Wieters B 0.671 0.804
Russell Martin R 0.88 0.743
Gerald Laird R 0.777 0.633
Chris Iannetta R 0.929 0.766
Joe Mauer L 0.781 0.947
Miguel Olivo R 0.823 0.65
Jarrod Saltalamacchia B 0.587 0.768
John Baker L 0.63 0.814
Kelly Shoppach R 0.999 0.704