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Monday, July 27, 2020

Rays’ Ji-Man Choi becomes switch-hitter, crushes homer in second MLB at-bat as a righty

The Tampa Bay Rays have long been known for their creativity and being opportunistic. Most recently, they pioneered the “opener” pitching strategy that has since spread across the league. Tampa Bay’s latest trick is turning their players into switch-hitters.

Sunday afternoon against the Blue Jays (GameTracker), noted left-handed hitter Ji-Man Choi turned around and batted right-handed against Toronto southpaw Anthony Kay. Choi struck out in his first at-bat as a righty but went deep next time up. It was a bomb too. Statcast has it at 429 feet and 110 mph off the bat. As a lefty, Choi did not hit a ball over 100.7 mph in 2019.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 27, 2020 at 09:52 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: ji-man choi, switch-hitting

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   1. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: July 27, 2020 at 10:44 AM (#5966011)
this was maybe the most surprising thing (to me, i didn't know that he'd tinkered with this) in baseball all year
   2. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: July 27, 2020 at 11:04 AM (#5966020)
Choi is a fun player and switch-hitting just makes him more fun.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 27, 2020 at 11:12 AM (#5966024)
I've heard of switch hitters giving up switch hitting (JT Snow comes to mind?) but I can't recall anyone picking it up mid-career like this. Any other examples?
   4. Rally Posted: July 27, 2020 at 11:14 AM (#5966029)
Larry Walker, against Randy Johnson. Choi did it better, Walker wins for comedic value.
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 27, 2020 at 11:15 AM (#5966030)
I recall Rick Dempsey toying with it one year but not sure if that was just a spring training experiment. I feel like there was someone more recent than that but can’t think of who.
   6. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: July 27, 2020 at 11:21 AM (#5966034)
From Dempsey’s SABR bio;

After Weaver frequently platooned Dempsey with a left-handed power hitter the next two seasons, in the spring of 1982 Dempsey, by then 32, even experimented with switch-hitting, an exercise, wrote Tom Boswell, that “in the end, by much diligent labor,” turned the catcher “into the worst left-handed hitter in history.”28 On Opening Day that season, in fact, Weaver allowed Dempsey to bat left-handed, so that Dempsey would, in Weaver’s words, “make a fool of himself and be done forever.”


And indeed BBRef shows his splits with one career AB as a lefty. He grounded into a Double Play in his first at bat against Dennis Leonard in 1982 on Opening Day and that was that.
   7. Perry Posted: July 27, 2020 at 02:00 PM (#5966086)
I've always heard that Maury Wills became a switch-hitter relatively late. According to his SABR bio, it was at age 25, in AAA. He made the majors the next year.
   8. Ron J Posted: July 27, 2020 at 03:02 PM (#5966118)
#3 Babe Ruth has two PAs (in 1923) as a RH hitter. Walked in both PAs.

The stories I had read made me think he did it more frequently than that.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: July 27, 2020 at 03:14 PM (#5966124)
And indeed BBRef shows his splits with one career AB as a lefty. He grounded into a Double Play in his first at bat against Dennis Leonard in 1982 on Opening Day and that was that.
Which I suppose does make him literally the worst left-handed hitter in history. Or at least the most ineffective.
   10. foop Posted: July 27, 2020 at 03:36 PM (#5966131)
I remember it being reported that pitcher Tomo Ohka had spontaneously started switch hitting when he was pitching for the Brewers in 2006, but looking at his split history it looks more like he stopped switch hitting and one day started again. Blame it on the translator, I guess?
   11. flournoy Posted: July 27, 2020 at 04:52 PM (#5966171)
The opposite situation, but there were switch hitters who sometimes chose to hit left handed against Tom Glavine. I do not recall who they were.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: July 27, 2020 at 06:25 PM (#5966194)
I think there have been some pitchers but otherwise I can't think of anybody who picked up switch-hitting this late ... doubly odd for a LHB to pick it up it seems to me. Now that I say I can't think of anybody, the back of my brain is tinkling that there was a Billy Hamilton type (but not that good) in the 70s or 80s who gave it a try, hoping he might steal a few more hits starting on the LH side of the plate.

I don't have a stathead subscription at the moment but, in real games, Larry Walker actually hit quite well off of Randy Johnson. (Or my memory stinks.)
   13. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: July 27, 2020 at 06:52 PM (#5966204)
Larry Walker actually hit quite well off of Randy Johnson. (Or my memory stinks.)

I don't have a stathead subscription either, but the data's on Retrosheet too. You do remember correctly. Walker posted a .393/.485/.571 career line against Johnson. 11-for-28 with 2 2B, a HR, 2 BB, 3 HBP, and 6 K's.
   14. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 27, 2020 at 09:06 PM (#5966229)
Which I suppose does make him literally the worst left-handed hitter in history. Or at least the most ineffective.


Ron Wright would then be the worst right-handed hitter in history.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: July 27, 2020 at 09:56 PM (#5966241)
3 HBP

Ouch!

Of course most (all?) of those PAs came after the Unit crossed over to the NL which would have been after the AS game antics.

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