Analysis

Tony Watson and the Rarity of the Left-Handed Closer

Tony Watson is one of few left-handed closers in baseball. Photo Credit: Tim Williams
Tony Watson and the Rarity of the Left-Handed Closer

BRADENTON, Fla. — As he was at the end of last season, Tony Watson will be the Pirates’ closer in 2017.

Watson is of course left-handed, which makes him something of a rarity. Only once, in 2006, have the Pirates had a lefty lead the team in saves, and that’s pretty much par for the course around Major League Baseball.

In 2016, with his late-season audition, Watson finished tied for 28th in the majors in saves. If you consider all of the pitchers that he’s tied with and above to be closers for all intents and purposes, you’ll find just three more left-handers: Aroldis Chapman, Zach Britton and Tony Cingrani. Over 25 percent of all the innings pitched in MLB last season were by lefties, but only about 10 percent of the closers are lefties.

So why are there so few left-handed closer...

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