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Where have all the superstar left-handed hitters gone?

Jul 15, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

Robinson Cano AP

Last night’s Home Run Derby included just one left-handed hitter (Justin Morneau) among the eight contestants and tonight’s All-Star game will feature only two left-handed hitters (Chase Utley, Robinson Cano) among the 18 starters.

So where did all of the star-caliber left-handed and switch-hitters go, exactly?

Looking back to last year, the All-Star game starting lineups featured left-handed bats Cano, Chris Davis, David Ortiz, Joe Mauer, Carlos Beltran, Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez, and Bryce Harper. Injuries knocked most of those guys out of consideration this season.

Going back two years, the All-Star game starting lineups in 2012 featured left-handed hitters Cano, Gonzalez, Ortiz, Votto, Beltran, Josh Hamilton, Prince Fielder, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, Rafael Furcal, and Curtis Granderson.

In other words, yeah, this season is a whole lot different.

Of course, it’s worth noting that this year’s All-Star game reserves include quite a few left-handed bats in Victor Martinez, Charlie Blackmon, Matt Carpenter, Freddie Freeman, Dee Gordon, Miguel Montero, Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rizzo, Erick Aybar, Michael Brantley, Brandon Moss, Kyle Seager. And switch-hitting Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was chosen as a starter, but won’t be playing due to an injury.

So there are plenty of left-handed-hitting All-Stars, just not many left-handed-hitting superstars, or at least not many left-handed-hitting superstars who’ve been both healthy and at the top of their respective games this season.

Who are some young left-handed and switch-hitters capable of emerging as perennial All-Star starters? Bryce Harper stands out, certainly, but beyond that there aren’t many 25-and-under left-handed hitters currently in the big leagues who strike me as sure-fire future superstars. Guys like Dickerson, Freeman, Rizzo, Lonnie Chisenhall, Matt Adams, Billy Hamilton, Christian Yelich, Jason Heyward, Kolten Wong, Eric Hosmer, Rougned Odor, Oswaldo Arcia, Jon Singleton, and Jackie Bradley Jr. certainly have big-time potential, but who knows?

It really does seem like we’re in a bit of a lull in terms of superstar left-handed hitters and that might continue for a while until a few prospects like Oscar Taveras, Gregory Polanco, Francisco Lindor, and Joey Gallo start taking over and/or former MVPs and MVP candidates like Votto, Mauer, Gonzalez, and Fielder get back on track.

  1. chris3141084 - Jul 15, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    Genetics is a reason. The specialization of our sports is a reason.

  2. papacrick - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    Well Victor Martinez should have been starting this game so there’s one

  3. cabrera24 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    You think V-Mart should be starting over M-Cab or Cruz ?

  4. cabrera24 - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    All those guys he just mention have been dealing with injuries. Not sure about Chris Davis’ He had a magical season lol…Gomez, Cutch, Puig, Stanton are better than Bryce Harper Before and after any injury.

  5. wonkypenguin - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Question semi-related but not really to this post: Has there been any change in the usage/pursuit of left-handed bats since the LOOGY became a commonplace thing for teams? I have no statistical evidence (just my totally-reliable-could-never-be-wrong eye), but it seems like more lefty batters are pulled for pinch hitters due to their susceptibility against left-handed pitchers than their right-handed counterparts against right-handed pitchers.

    This thought brought to you by the All-Star Break which robs us of our senses for four full days.

    • Cris E - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      I dunno, kids today are just lazy, that’s the real problem. It seems with all this newfangled technology you should just be able to go out and get a left handed pitching machine and work on it.

      • spursareold - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        Are those lazy kids constantly on your lawn, too?

  6. pauleee - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Erick Aybar is a switch hitter, although he hits much better from the left side.

  7. Cris E - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Just wait a few years and we’ll get it straightened out: my six year old hits left handed.

  8. Nick Danger - Jul 15, 2014 at 11:51 AM

    A batch of left-handed hitting HGH got mis-labeled as right-handed hitting HGH. All of the struggling lefties should just switch sides, they’d all be right-handed monsters right now.

  9. juggernautlikes - Jul 15, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    You don’t have Freddie Freeman as a capable “sure-fire” superstar/all-star starter but you have Bryce Harper? Come on, man…Freeman has been way better than Harper in the big leagues and is now in his second straight All-star game.

  10. gloccamorra - Jul 15, 2014 at 2:49 PM

    It’s all part of the great cycle of baseball. The lefty sluggers of the recent past are older, injured, overweight, etc., but there will be a new crop coming up, if you’re willing to wait. It’s the same with the dominant pitching of today that resulted when expansion in the ’90s thinned out pitching ranks and teams stressed developing pitching. Now they’re looking for position players with pop, but it’ll be a few years before hitting dominates the game again. Balance? that’s just a transitory state between swings of the cycle.

  11. Greg Weber - Jul 15, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    I blame Obamacare.

  12. sabatimus - Jul 16, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    Where are the lefties? Protecting their swings.

  13. psly2124 - Jul 16, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    A lot if the left handed hitters numbers are going down because if the shifts. Until left handers can go the other , Chris Davis, there numbers will suffer.

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