Considering that Ryan Sweeney gets jelly-legged against same-handed pitching, Carl Crawford is questionable for the start of the season following wrist surgery and Mike Aviles is expected to be part of a shortstop platoon after Boston shipped incumbent Marco Scutaro to Colorado, the Red Sox were in need of a lefty-mashing outfielder. They found their man in Cody Ross, signing the 31-year-old to a one-year, $3 million deal with plate appearance-based incentives.
After bouncing from Detroit to L.A., Cincinnati to Florida and then to San Francisco, Ross understandably sought some stability and was reportedly looking for a two-year deal this winter. But teams were reluctant to commit multiple years to a guy who doesn't inflict much pain versus the nearly three-quarters of big league pitchers who throw from the right side: Ross has a career .253/.313/.414 line in 1,924 plate appearances against righties.
Lefties are a different story, though. Ross has raked them for a .282/.349/.563 triple-slash in 759 plate appearances, and most of that slugging comes against pitches thrown above the belt. Take a look at his in-play slugging percentage by pitch location against lefties since 2008:
Ross' lefty lashing should complement Sweeney, who holds his own against right-handers (.296/.352/.402 in 1,319 PA) but struggles to get the ball out of the infield against same-handed pitching (.233/.306/.289 in 362 PA against LHPs). Ross might be a nomad for the rest of his career, shifting from one city to the next as teams seek a guy who creams lefties. Still, there are worse fates than spending the summer making dents in the Green Monster.