Friday 5 – Switch Hitters

After last week’s time off, I’m back with today’s Friday 5.  Since baseball season just ended and I’m not ready for it to be over, I’m dedicating today’s list to switch hitters.

During my brief and generally forgettable baseball career, I toyed with the idea of switch hitting.  It lasted for a practice before I got tired of striking out.   Since then, I’ve always been enamored with the idea of it.  So let’s take a look at the Top 5 switch hitters in the game today starting with:

5. Kendry Morales – Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Can one season make you one of the top five switch hitters in the game?  Sure it can.  Morales was given the full-time starting job for the first time this season and he didn’t disappoint.  The 26 year-old put up .306 batting average, 34 long balls, and 108 RBIs.  For years we heard of his potential and it finally came to fruition.  Morales hits for right around the same average from both sides of the plate, but he has markedly more power from the left side where he hit 30 homers.  If Morales can do this for a few more years he’ll become one of the premier switch hitters in the game.

4. Carlos Beltran – New York Mets

Beltran is certainly a great hitter, but I also feel like he’s a little overrated.  Maybe it’s just that he’s a Met and that makes him bad.  In 12 seasons, he’s hit over .300 three times, three years of 30+ homers, and 8 years of 100+ RBIs.  He was hampered by injuries this year, just like the rest of the Mets, which held him to a career-low 81 games and 10 homers.  I like to think he’s on the backside of his career, he’s got bad knees and his power numbers are declining, but again, that’s just because I’m a Braves fan.

3. Lance Berkman – Houston Astros

The Big Puma, other than having one of the best nicknames in baseball, is one of the best switch hitters in baseball.  (Okay, the Big Potato has the best nickname.  I digress.)  I liked to dismiss Berkman’s accomplishments by claiming that he plays his home games in the band box known as Minute Maid Park.  It turns out, his splits are very similar: .301/144/503 at home vs. .295/169/538 away from Houston.   That adds up to an average season of .299, 34 homers, and 112 RBIs.  That’s pretty darn good.  It’s also good enough for #3 on my coutdown.

2. Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees

Mark Teixeira just finished his first season in the Bronx and it was a good one.  He led the AL in homers with 39 and RBIs with 122.  In seven seasons, Teixeira has put together an average line of .290/37/122.  That’s just a touch better than Berkman.  Teixeira also has four years with 40+ doubles.  I’m sure his numbers will stay around the same level now that he plays 81 games in the New Yankee Stadium.  Coincidentally, Teixeira’s former teammate is #1 on this list.

1. Chipper Jones – Atlanta Braves

Chipper is far and away the best switch hitter of this generation and he belong in the discussion with Mickey Mantle for the best of all time.  In 16 years, Jones has put together a 162 game average season of .307/32/108.  His power numbers have dipped now that he’s reached his upper-30s.  Still, just last year he hit .364 with an other-worldly .470 on base percentage.  He also won the league’s MVP award in 1999 when he hit .319 with 45 homers and 110 RBIs – one of the best seasons ever by a switch hitter.  I would be willing to renegotiate numbers two through five, but Chipper is hands down number one.

So there you have it.  I’m sure I forgot someone; how would you rank the current switch hitters?

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