Is it time for San Diego Padres’ infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar to stop switch-hitting? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
Being a switch hitter is one of the most impressive feats in the MLB. However, many people struggle to lock down one successful swing, let alone switch between two different swings.
The big advantage to switch-hitting is getting a favorable platoon. This means the batter is in the box opposite of the pitchers throwing arm.
For Jurickson Profar, it’s been a rough journey. He was once the top prospect in baseball, then injuries came and derailed him from that path. The Rangers shipped him to the Athletics, who then turned him over to the Padres, where he has been since 2020. He has served as a super-utility player with the Padres, logging innings at 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and all outfield spots.
Profar’s utility ability makes him a valuable asset in the field, but he needs to turn it around at the plate. One solution is to end his time as a switch hitter.
In 2021, he was two very different hitters based on which side of the plate he was batting from. As a left-handed hitter, he had a 98 wRC+ (wRC+ is a weighted statistic in which 100 represents the average MLB hitter) and a .247/.352/.345 slash line. That is equivalent to a slightly below-average hitter. However, when he batted righty, things were a lot different. He had a 38 wRC+ with a .154/.247/.231 slash. That is so low that only two batters with a minimum of 200 plate appearances finished the season with a 38 wRC+ or lower (Michael Perez and Jackie Bradley Jr.) Even former Padre Austin Hedges had a higher wRC+.
The only difference for Profar was the swing. His K% and BB% were roughly the same. Meaning he used the same approach regardless of how he was hitting.
Luckily for Profar, he has a solution. Simply stop batting right-handed. Take the offseason and work on becoming a full-time left-handed hitter. Why stay as a left-handed hitter over right? As mentioned before, he performed significantly better as a left-handed hitter. This also gives him the platoon advantage in more situations due to the higher volume of right-handed pitchers.
Batters play with the idea of switch-hitting more often than people think. Last season Ji-Man Choi added switch-hitting to his repertoire before dropping it later on in the season. Billy Hamilton was a lifelong switch hitter. Then in the middle of last season, he stopped because his left-handed swing was causing him pain.
The big success story is Cedric Mullins. In 2020, he had an even wider split between his two swings. As a left-handed batter, he had a 116 wRC+ and a 32 when batting right-handed. This season he stopped batting right-handed, and the results were spectacular. As a full-time lefty, he had a 149 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers and 113 against left-handed pitchers. This carried him to his first all-star appearance. Perhaps more importantly, it secured his spot in the long-term plans of the Orioles, a team whose competitive window is going to open in the next few years.
The Padres need Profar right now. He can serve as a vital depth piece on one of the best rosters ever constructed in San Diego. One simple change can turn things around for him.