The Indians recently signed former All-Star Bryan LaHair (yes, by some miracle Bryan LaHair was an All-Star) to a minor league deal this past week.
Presumably he was signed to compete with Jason Giambi for the role of the left-handed pinch-hitter, or potentially simply as minor league insurance on the 43-year-old Giambi.
We know Terry Francona loves platoons and playing lefty/righty match ups, so LaHair might be a viable option on the Indians roster. But let’s all pray that he’s never forced into a starting role.
Because he just might be the all-time worst hitter against left-handed pitching of all time.
Baseball-Reference provides split data dating back to 1916, and here are the 20 worst lefties against left-handed pitching in that near-100-year span (min. 90 plate appearances)
|1||Ted Lilly||vs LHP as LHB||.044||103||91||4||44||.054||.055||.109|
|2||Al Leiter||vs LHP as LHB||.050||178||161||8||91||.089||.068||.158|
|3||Bruce Hurst||vs LHP as LHB||.054||111||92||5||60||.121||.054||.176|
|4||Tim Lincecum||vs LHP as LHB||.056||109||90||5||55||.115||.056||.170|
|5||Jim Merritt||vs LHP as LHB||.064||123||110||7||67||.120||.082||.201|
|6||Doug Rau||vs LHP as LHB||.067||119||105||7||40||.101||.067||.168|
|7||Dave Koslo||vs LHP as LHB||.071||111||99||7||49||.132||.071||.203|
|8||Dick Ellsworth||vs LHP as LHB||.072||241||208||15||112||.131||.082||.212|
|9||Steve Barber||vs LHP as LHB||.079||201||177||14||112||.147||.096||.243|
|10||Barry Zito||vs LHP as LHB||.079||152||127||10||35||.127||.079||.206|
|11||Jon Lieber||vs LHP as LHB||.079||173||152||12||69||.125||.079||.204|
|12||Jim Deshaies||vs LHP as LHB||.083||128||108||9||65||.168||.083||.251|
|13||Mike Cuellar||vs LHP as LHB||.083||226||206||17||107||.095||.092||.187|
|14||Bob Ojeda||vs LHP as LHB||.089||142||123||11||47||.145||.098||.243|
|15||Jamie Moyer||vs LHP as LHB||.095||149||116||11||51||.186||.095||.281|
|16||Bryan LaHair||vs LHP as LHB||.098||96||82||8||37||.221||.159||.380|
|17||Josh Johnson||vs LHP as LHB||.100||94||80||8||54||.153||.100||.253|
|18||Odalis Perez||vs LHP as LHB||.101||115||99||10||24||.119||.111||.230|
|19||Carlos Perez||vs LHP as LHB||.103||90||78||8||37||.125||.192||.317|
|20||Sammy Ellis||vs LHP as LHB||.103||121||107||11||59||.127||.103||.230|
LaHair comes in at No. 16, surrounded by 19 other… pitchers. Yes, LaHair is actually worse against lefties than most major league pitchers, collecting just eight hits in 82 at-bats.
If we were to extend the list, we’d have to go all the way down to Jesse Gonder at No. 32, a a journeyman backup catcher from the 1960s, to find the next non-pitcher on the list.
Notable former Indian lefties who were more successful against their left-handed foes: Herb Score (.121 BA), Sam McDowell (.122) and Bob Lemon (.177).
Obviously this doesn’t mean LaHair can’t play a role for the Tribe, but it makes him a risky player to have on the bench. Any time he’s brought in to pinch-hit, opponents can immediately counter with a southpaw for an automatic out. Even Giambi, who has always struggled against lefties, hit .225 against them over the past two seasons.