Chipper Jones is naturally right-handed. A switch-hitter, he learned to bat from the left side because he loved to emulate the Dodgers lineup as a child, and learned to take swings from the other side of the plate.
Jones has stated in the past that his left-handed swing takes a lot more work to keep steady than his right-handed swing. He has many more moving parts from the left side, and despite having better career numbers as a lefty, his swing is starting to slow and deteriorate.
In 2009, Jones had one of his least productive seasons to date. He had a line of .264/.388/.430, with just 18 home runs and 71 runs batted in, both career lows.
However, his problems persisted mostly from the left side.
As a left-handed batter, Jones made 413 plate appearances to go .252/.395/.377, .772 OPS, 9 HR, and 38 RBI last season. From the right side, he made 183 plate appearances to bat .289/.372/.541, .912 OPS, 9 HR, and 33 RBI.
Those are pretty drastic splits. Jones did have a lower on-base percentage as a righty, but that was due to him being able to draw more walks.
Even late in his career and with diminishing power, Jones, a 17-year MLB veteran, is able to get walks from the left side at an incredible rate.
With his left-handed swing, however, his average went down .097 points, and his slugging dropped an astonishing .204 points. He also hit eight fewer home runs in 2009 from the left side, despite having 63 more plate appearances than the previous season.
Jones has been more effective from the right side again this season, while his struggles have continued from the left, where he is currently 3-for-21 with no extra base hits. Granted, it’s only two weeks into the season, but his left-handed swing is very worrisome, especially considering he is the team’s third hitter.
Meanwhile, from the right side of the plate Jones is batting .444 with three extra base hits, including two homers.
If the Braves’ offense is going to be successful, Jones needs to produce from the left side. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, as it’s clear that he is more consistent from his natural right-handed side.
Tags: Chipper Jones, Switch Hitter
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