By Nathan Aderhold | @AdrastusPerkins |
The switch hitter is such a standard part of baseball these days that it’s easy to forget what a crazy feat it is. Most players have a hard enough time hitting from one side of the plate without the worry that they have to perform just as well from the other. In the 100-plus years of modern Major League Baseball (since 1901), 736* position-player switch hitters have graced the big league batter’s box for at least one plate appearance – a small fraction of the thousands who have appeared in the game’s biggest cathedrals over the years.
In spite of the immense effort and training becoming a switch hitter obviously entails, it has become ubiquitous in baseball. At minimum, there seems to be at least one switch hitter on every major league club – a small handful being more the norm. That hasn’t always been the case, however. Prior to 1951, when Greatest Switch-Hitter of All Time Mickey Mantle joined the league, 20 teams had won the World Series without a single switch hitter on their roster (Only four teams – the ’64 Cardinals, ‘66 Orioles, ’68 Tigers, and ’71 Pirates – have done so since). In fact, before the Mick started patrolling centerfield in the Bronx, the switch hitter had almost completely died out.
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