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« Ubaldo at Home | Main | Axford's Highs and Lows »

Randy Choate: Lefty Killer

With the Florida Marlins double-digit games behind, in both the National League East and NL Wild Card standings, and contending teams always looking for lefty relief help, expect to hear Randy Choate's name come up often in trade rumors this month.

The 35-year-old, signed over the winter to a two-year, $2.5 million deal, is death to all things southpawed. He has limited lefty hitters to a .206 batting average, a .282 on-base percentage and a .284 slugging percentage during the course of his big league career. Choate must be handled judiciously by his manager, lest right-handed hitters clog up the bases against him (.278/.397/.411 career line versus righties), but he's as good of a LOOGY (left-handed one out guy) as you're going to find. The Marlins have gone to greath lengths to limit his exposure to right-handers this year, as Choate has enjoyed the platoon advantage against 54 of the 74 batters that he has faced.

Choate pounds lefties inside with a mid-80s sinker that has over 11 inches of tailing action in on the hands, or breaks out an upper-70s slider that darts far in the opposite direction. Here's what his sinker/slider combo looks like to those poor left-handed souls:

Pitch break frequency of Choate's sinker (left side of chart) and sliderOverall, Choate has thrown his sinker about 58 percent of the time and his slider about 42 percent. But he hasn't followed a typical pattern in terms of when he has tossed those pitches. In first-pitch counts, Choate has gone to his slider 65 percent of the time. In two-strike counts, he has thrown his sinker about 60 percent. Breaking balls in a fastball count, and fastballs in situations where most pitches call on the breaking stuff -- talk about messing with lefties' heads.

Choate's inside/outside approach and backwards pitching has produced a 22-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 63 percent ground ball rate against lefties. You'd have to think that teams vying for a division title or a Wild Card spot are salivating at the prospect of getting this LOOGY to shut down their rivals' big lefty bats.

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