Do Lefties Have Reason To Rejoice?

by derek on July 8, 2008 · 28 comments

A few months back we discussed a number of reasons it sucks to be left handed, including things such as:

  • Left-handed guitars are difficult to find.
  • Have you ever gone shopping for a left-handed baseball mitt?
  • Do you remember those small, crappy desks in school?
  • Smudging everything that you write.
  • Where are the lefty scissors?

Well, all of you right-handed snobs can keep your “special” scissors and wide selection of guitars, although the scarcity of lefty baseball mitts could still be somewhat of a downer, as there is an article that I was reading that talks about how baseball is rigged for left-handers.
David Peters, an aircraft engineer and professor at Washington University in St. Louis has provided a list of reasons that baseball is rigged for southpaws.
Unfortunately, I missed the news and never took advantage of being a lefty to become a professional baseball player – although maybe that is because I throw left-handed but bat right-handed. Oddly enough, my oldest son is the exact opposite of that as he throws with his right hand but hits lefty. As much as I tried to get him to throw lefty too, he just never felt comfortable with it.
According to the article, here are some of the reasons that baseball favors lefties:

  • Quicker to First Base :: Standing in the left-handed batters box, you are already a few feet closer to first base. In addition, the momentum of your swing carries you towards first base and gives you a slight advantage over right-handed hitters. Take a look at how many infield hits Ichiro Suzuki has (he has led the league multiple times) and you will see there is validity to this point.
  • Short Porch in Right :: Many ballparks are configured with right field being closer to home than left field. With the tendency to pull the ball, left-handed batters can take advantage of the shorter distance to hit more home runs. As an example, San Francisco (whatever their park is called these days) has a right field line that measures 309 feet while left field is 339 feet. That 30 feet can be the difference between a home run and a single or double.
  • Slow Down Sparky :: Left-handed pitchers typically have an advantage keeping the runner close to first base, as they are looking directly at the runner most of the time and don’t have to spin to throw over to first. With a slightly above average pick-off move, a lefty pitcher will be able to catch quite a few runners. Being a fan of the Chicago White Sox, I have witnessed this with Mark Beuhrle on numerous occasions.
  • What In The… :: Think back to when you were a kid and played Little League baseball. How many of the kids were lefties? Probably not too many, considering only 10 percent of the population is left-handed. Even though a right-handed hitter should theoretically have an easier time facing a southpaw, many struggle because it just isn’t as common and that makes it a little more difficult when they do face a lefty.

Having played a little baseball in my day, I can say that a lot of the points raised by David Peters make a lot of sense and can give an advantage to a left-handed player.
While I may have missed my calling, I am still holding out hope that my oldest son will take his combination of righty / lefty talent to the big leagues. Considering that his favorite position is catcher, throwing right-handed is actually beneficial to him so you never know.
Some of these advantages can carry over into other sports as well, as you will regularly see a southpaw fighter give fits to a right-handed fighter as they aren’t as accustomed to seeing it. A left-handed shooter in basketball can be more difficult to block because defenders favor the right side. In football, a lefty quarterback is facing the side that often features the quick pass rusher on the defense and reduces the risk of the blind side hit.
So while there may be a number of reasons that being left-handed sucks, there are also some advantages.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Ling@Uptake July 8, 2008 at 10:20 pm

And what about boxing? Its a great advantage to get your opponent off-guard with a sucker punch from the right hand, and then come out swinging with your left.


Kelvin Kao@Puppet Kaos July 8, 2008 at 10:29 pm

I agree with what’s been said about baseball. Since there are switch hitters and switch pitchers (although rare), I wounder if there are switch catchers. If they can do that, they can minimize having the path blocked by the batter while attempting to throw to the bases. But then again, switch catching is probably not a good idea cuz it would be really distracting to the pitcher.
I am right-handed, but I do have an odd habit. I like to have my knife in the left hand and fork in my right hand when I eat, which is often what left-handers do. (That was a confusing sentence, but I was referring to the knife and fork configuration, not pointing out that left-handers usually eat.)
While it’s nice to bat left-handed, there are more positions that favor people that throw with their right hand. It’s harder for catcher, second baseman, third baseman, and shortstop to throw with their lefthand.


Justin@Airsoft Guns July 8, 2008 at 10:46 pm

All of those advantages to being left handed are baseball related, and I don’t play baseball! I am left handed though, and it has caused me considerable pain throughout my life. Oh, the discrimination!


Devon July 8, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Interesting post, Derek!
I have the same strange combo your son does.
I swing a bat, a hockey stick, a golf club, and a tennis racket left-handed as well as shooting a basketball left-handed. But I throw a ball, bowl, play ping pong, and write right-handed.
Funny you should mention guitar because when I was a young kid my folks bought me an acoustic guitar that I proceeded to flip upside down and play left-handed. They had it restrung and I played for awhile before losing interest.
Many years later I wanted to learn guitar for real and rather than have my guitar restrung just learned to play right-handed. According to all the definitions I’ve read, I am right-handed but it is kind of strange..And oh yeah, when I write, I hold a pen/pencil in my right hand but the way a lefty holds their pen..


Nick@romandock dot com July 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Very interesting post and I find a lot of truth to all of your points.
As a side note, I’m in the same camp as your son. I bat left-handed and throw right-handed. Although, when I was younger I did dapple with right-handed batting but never felt as comfortable with it. I golf left-handed as well.
Nicks last blog post..Sunday Snapshots – 006


Business Networking July 9, 2008 at 12:20 am

In baseball you forgot about the curve ball advantage. Most pitchers are righties and lefties can kill their curb ball. That means a right handed pitcher facing a left handed batter is left with a fast ball and change up. Most pitchers don’t have much more than that if they can’t throw a curve.
What about Southpaw Boxers. There have been a lot of greats and they clearly have an advantage. I’m not sure if the advantage in skills, but right handed boxers aren’t used to seeing them. So they are vulnerable to straight lefts.
I also heard 50% of computer programmers are lefties.
So I think they are doing pretty well.


Business Networking July 9, 2008 at 12:21 am

why is there a no-follow on my comment.


derek July 9, 2008 at 12:49 am

Because I have altered this site from a straight DoFollow setup to something that reduces the number of spam comments trying to only get the link.


Business Networking July 9, 2008 at 1:09 am

does my first post look like I’m only trying to get the link? My comment was insightful and adds to your post, yet my link has been removed.


derek July 9, 2008 at 1:51 am

You’re absolutely correct that your first post was insightful and added to the discussion. The reason the link was removed was explained in the note directly above where you enter your name on the comment form.
I’m more than happy to share the link love with people, as most people here will tell you. But there are a few rules that must be followed.

Theron@Business Networking July 9, 2008 at 2:14 am

Ok, I guess I didn’t follow directions. This is the first time I’ve seen this plugin. Seems like a good idea.

derek July 9, 2008 at 11:19 am

Thanks for being understanding!

Chan Sui July 9, 2008 at 1:06 am

My youngest brother is a lefthanded boy. Right now see nothing problem but who know when he grow up.
Chan Suis last blog post..Iomega 33832 Portable Hard Drive 160GB


Larry @ Commercial Lighting July 9, 2008 at 6:30 am

I would also think there would be some advantages to boxing as well. If you train for years against someone who is right handed, A lefty could come in and mess up your entire game.


Andrea July 9, 2008 at 7:29 am

my brother is a lefty. and i remember hearing him when we were kids, complain about things not working right for him.
I do wish there would be more lefty friendly stuff.


Nicole Price July 9, 2008 at 8:53 am

I endorse your view and some other agonizers about being left handed. It is unfair and something needs to be done about it. There is however the great advantage that southpaws develop, being ambidextrous!
Nicole Prices last blog post..Top Selling Albums of All Time


Carole@The Left Handed Site July 9, 2008 at 11:45 am

I do pretty much everything with my left hand, except those things I was taught by a right hander – guitar, golf and knitting. (Erm, haven’t knintted anything since I was a kid..)
My niece writes left handed and does every other task with her right hand. As does Bill Gates, so I hear.
It is a pain having to adapt to living in a world designed for right handers but we need to celebrate our difference and be proud to be southpaws!


Larry @ Commercial Lighting July 10, 2008 at 8:58 am

Wasn’t Rocky a southpaw?


Eva White July 10, 2008 at 9:09 pm

My husband is a lefty and while he does have a few troubles because of that I find that he is quite comfortable with the right hand as well. In fact the forced practice with various gadgets to his right hand tend to make him more ambidextrous than me. He can use both his hands with ease while I falter when trying to work with my right hand.
Eva Whites last blog post..Herbal Viagra – A New Discovery


Eva White July 10, 2008 at 9:21 pm

My son on the other hand is unable to decide which is his prefered hand. Since both parents don’t tell him to use any hand in particular for any task he just uses both hands for whichever task he does.
Eva Whites last blog post..Herbal Viagra – A New Discovery


Larry @ Commercial Lighting July 11, 2008 at 11:03 am

I guess if I had to influence my child I would pick lefty for the baseball reason.


Aims@Long Distance Moving Companies July 11, 2008 at 3:21 pm

I am a left handed person and I remember playing baseball in my grade school years. Anyway, I don’t seem to have a problem with doing things. I find it more of an advantage for me actually.


pauletet July 12, 2008 at 10:05 am

For me they are special and most of the time have more advantage than right handed persons.


mark July 13, 2008 at 4:33 pm

I’m a lefty and of course I think being left-handed is the coolest thing ever. 🙂 I use right handed scissors (oppressed childhood?), but otherwise I’m not ambi. Finding good sports equipment is a royal pain. Baseball gloves sure, but nothing sucks like the selection of lefty golf clubs you typically find. Ugh. But overall being lefty rocks.
marks last blog post..Hey baby…whatchadoin’?


Britt Phillips July 15, 2008 at 9:04 am

My great grandfather got his hands caught in elavator doors as a child. His left hand healed before his right. He was in school so he had to learn to do everything with his left hand. After he completely healed, he could write his name as well as he could with his right hand!


Computer Repair Las Vegas July 21, 2008 at 3:21 pm

I noticed 1 cool thing though…. is that when i lift weights my left arm bicep is much stronger of course :)..
So when arm wrestling i always ask to arm wrestle left handed..
Works out good as usually the other person isn’t as strong in their left hand..
Any way..
Lefties rule..
Computer Repair Las Vegass last blog post..Computer Repair Las Vegas – Why is my computer so slow? Part. 1


Gary G August 3, 2008 at 2:10 pm

I am a right handed luthier. For some reason I find it much harder to make left handed instruments.


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