Believe it or not, there is a difference in baseball between a switch hitter and a guy who bats from both sides of the plate.
For instance, Chipper Jones was a switch hitter. Pittsburgh Pirates’ second baseman Neil Walker is not. He’s simply a guy who bats from both sides of the plate.
It’s no secret that Walker has struggled in a big way attempting to hit right handed, begging the question of whether or not he should forget about hitting from both sides of the plate and concentrate solely on being a left-handed hitter?
The numbers would suggest that is something that should be considered, given the fact that Walker is hitting only .190 from the right side of the plate, compared to hitting at a .280 clip from the left side. In addition, all five of Walker’s homers have come as a left-handed hitter.
However switch hitting is something that Walker isn’t about to give up on anytime soon.
“[The ability to switch-hit] helps eliminate certain pitches usually,” Walker told the Post-Gazette’s Paul Zeise. “Most of the time, the ball is going away from you and off-speed is coming into you. But [switch-hitting] is a gift and a curse. It is not easy and it is something that got me here and something I’m never going to change.”
However as bad as he has been from the right side of the plate this season, his career numbers back up Walker’s commitment.
Throughout his major league career, his career batting average as a right-hander (.260) is not much lower than his career average as a left-hander (.285).
With the Pirates playing as good as they have in decades, it would make some sense for Walker to stick with what’s working, but he has gotten some big hits in the past as a right-handed hitter and I believe he has some more big hits coming.