There are several myths circulating the interwebz which need to be debunked. Now I’m not going to argue Paul Bunyun never existed, without whom there would be no Great Lakes or a Grand Canyon. The tooth fairy does in fact exist and provides residents of the state of West Virginia with their second highest source of income. The truth about Seth Smith is that his legend lends itself towards folklore. Born in Beverly Hills, CA and educated in Oxford... Mississippi. This Rebel burst upon the scene as a pinch hitter squibbing a ball into fair territory with such might it launched an entire time zone into delirium.
The myth that Seth Smith cannot hit lefthanded pitching has got to be addressed. Who knows how these rumors start, whether it’s a boy scout troop huddled over a campfire trying to scare the scarves off each other, or a clique of tween-agers making someone feel left out. However it starts, the myth begins to take shape and grow beyond it’s dark beginnings until it takes root within our consciousness and is then one day stated without fact or background. The truth must be revealed.
Any good myth search starts by looking in the obvious places, so I began my quest by checking Seth’s splits on Baseball Reference. BR shows Seth has a .222 AVG vs lefties AHA! so you see the myth is true he can’t hit lefties, but wait he’s only had 12 starts in his career? Is that right, is 12 starts enough of a sample size to truly measure how good of hitter he is? If we look at 2010 he only had 3 starts against lefty starters and his AVG was .085, but then in 2009 he had 8 starts and hit a whopping .353! So is he the .085 hitter or the .353 hitter against lefties?
Searching old newspaper archives we don’t find any record of Seth struggling against lefties. In fact we find just the opposite; whether it’s the solo HR he swatted against a lefthanded Arkansas pitcher to preserve a 1-0 win or when he went 2-3 with a double and 3 RBI to lead his team to a 7-4 victory against a tough Tennessee lefty. In his college career Seth hit .325 against lefties, twice he had better seasons against lefties than righties!
Well that was just college, duh! you can’t count amateur stats because that would be...well amateur of me. Let’s look at his other professional stats. I’m sure Seth wasn’t platooned throughout his minor league career. The problem is finding minor league splits, since minorleaguesplits.com is no longer available. Fortunately Jeff Sackmann made his work available for us all to use and guess what I discovered? Not only can Seth Smith hit lefties, he can walk against them too! In 634 AB's Seth has a career AVG of .295, not bad for a player who can't hit lefties. Here’s a spreadsheet of Seth’s numbers as a college and minor league player condensed into the table below:
|Seth Smith Minors and College Splits :|
Granted while searching for this information I ignored more advanced statistics for several reasons; mostly because of the lack of available data, so I relied upon AB’s and Hits. I also conveniently ignored SLG because again, the point was not how far he hit the ball, but that he could hit against lefties and besides it’s not much worse than another platoon player’s who’s been used frequently. To read more about Seth Smith I would suggest searching through this Ole Miss archives where one can read about his exploits on the US National team at the 2003 Pan-Am games where his 7 game hitting streak help power the team to a Silver Medal.