Does Joe Mahoney Go the Opposite Way?
During the Tides 10-5 win over Indianapolis on Friday (May 4), the Tides radio broadcasters observed that Tides’ first baseman Joe Mahoney seemed to be adept at going the other way. Or, in other words, that left-handed hitter Joe Mahoney hit a fair number of balls to left field. That’s something I can check fairly easily with my scoresheets.
I’ve scored thirteen Tides’ home games this season, and I analyzed Mahoney’s plate appearances in those thirteen games. In the table below is a count of the number of batted balls first touched by each position — fortunately, there were no deflection hits.
|First Base||2||Right Fielder||3.5||Walks||2|
|Second Base||8||Center Fielder||4.5||Strikeouts||11|
There’s a certain loss of detail in the numbers; a ball fielded by the second baseman could be anywhere from deep in the hole between first and second to behind the second-base bag. Also, Mahoney hit one out-of-the-park home run that I recorded as being to right-center field; I arbitrarily assigned that as half to the right fielder and half to the center fielder.
There’s a difference in his hit locations between balls fielded by infielders and balls fielded by outfielders. Half of the ball fielded by outfielders were fielded by the left fielder; i.e. going to the opposite field. On the other hand, five out of every eight hits fielded by an infielder were at least potentially pulled; i.e. fielded by either the second baseman or the first baseman.
So the broadcasters’ comments had a least some truth; Mahoney has been taking a fair number of pitches to the opposite field. He’s been especially good at driving balls to the opposite outfield; he does tend to pull balls that remain in the infield. Since most base hits are on balls hit to the outfield, it’s likely that the broadcasters based their comments on Mahoney’s base hits; routine grounders to second are less memorable. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues.
One more point — Mahoney’s tendency to go the other way will probably hurt him at Harbor Park. Harbor Park hurts hitters with two exceptions — pure speed slap-hitters (like Kyle Hudson and Matt Angle) and left-handed dead-pull hitters. The party area in right field is 318 feet away down the right-field line before the fences fall back in front of the bullpen. Mahoney’s offensive totals may be depressed if he doesn’t learn to pull the ball down the line — which is also a skill that will help him in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.