Science Supports Seamheads’ Southpaw Swoon

We’re all more than familiar with MLB’s love of lefties, whether on the mound or at the plate, and now, thanks to NEWSWEEK, there’s now some official scientific proof backing the concept that lefties are just plain better at baseball (well, at least as far as hitting goes.)

Chase Utley

The magazine’s web site interviews an aerospace engineer from the University of Washington named David Peters, who explains more of the basics (outside of the obvious “left-handed hitters get out of the batters’ box faster”).

Essentially, arm angles and viewpoints when facing right-handed pitchers give all the advantage:

The biggest has to do with the angle of the ball. Three quarters of pitchers are right-handed. A right-handed batter has to look over his left shoulder and the ball is coming at quite an angle. The offset of your eyes gives you depth perception. So when you’re looking over your shoulder, you have lost the distance between your two eyes quite a bit, so you have lost that 10th of a second to see the ball. That’s why batters switch hit.

Also included: the fact that most stadiums were built with right-handed hitters in mind originally, so the left field fences were placed further back, or, in the case of Fenway Park, a Green Monster was erected. Interestingly enough, Fenway and Yankee Stadium are also a couple of the easiest places to hit homers if you’re a lefty as a result. (This also explains why the player who throws lefty but hits right-handed is even rarer — Rickey Henderson was the best example I can think of.)

Of course, this is all scientific analysis and geekery, so of course it’s not in a sports publication; most are often still scared of the stat-head fans that have developed and swarmed. An engineer explaining why some athletes have an advantage outside of hard work and grit? Pshaw.