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Should Michael Toglia abandon switch-hitting?

Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Switch-hitting is a difficult gambit that few have come to master at the big league level. The ability to have a constant platoon is enticing for any player, but being able to take full advantage of it may not be in the cards for everyone. Today I wanted to ponder a question I’ve had for weeks; should Michael Toglia abandon switch-hitting?

Drafted in 2019, Toglia offers an interesting mixed bag of potential. Defensively, he has the chops to handle first base quite easily while having some versatility to play both corner outfield positions. The main hurdle for his big league career is figuring out his production at the plate. He has the power to spare in his bat but needs to iron out some other parts of his approach at the big-league level in order to reach his full potential, and that could possibly mean giving up switch-hitting.

Right-handed split stats

The split in question here is Toglia from the right side. We will get into his left-hand side in a moment but batting from the right has been the somewhat weaker side. Consider the results of his right-handed hitting in the table below.

Michael Toglia RHB Split

2019 BOI (A-) 38 5 1 0 0 3 7 8 0.161 0.316 0.194
2021 SPO (A+) 64 12 2 0 3 11 9 18 0.218 0.328 0.418
2021 HAR (AA) 30 8 3 1 1 5 3 11 0.320 0.400 0.640
2022 HAR (AA) 96 18 5 0 5 17 11 31 0.217 0.313 0.458
2022 ABQ (AAA) 24 9 3 0 1 5 4 5 0.450 0.542 0.750
2022 COL (MLB) 36 7 3 0 1 5 1 14 0.200 0.222 0.371
2023 ABQ (AAA) 100 17 2 0 4 14 10 14 0.193 0.270 0.352
2023 COL (MLB) 12 1 0 0 0 0 0 7 0.083 0.083 0.083

As we can see, it’s been a slightly lackluster result for Toglia from the right side. Aside from a couple of hot flashes in the pan after promotion in the minors, he hasn’t been able to produce much against left-handed pitchers. He has thrown out some extra-base hits and a decent amount of home runs considering the small sample size, but his main advantage appears to be an ability to make a bit more contact and show off some decent plate discipline. Still is it enough to warrant continuing to employ a switch-hitting philosophy?

Left-handed split stats

Swapping gears let's make like a Toglia and hit from the other side of the plate. Once again, we can check out this table below about his general left-handed efforts.

Michael Toglia LHP Split

2019 BOI (A-) 138 31 6 0 9 23 21 37 0.272 0.384 0.561
2021 SPO (A+) 266 54 8 2 14 55 33 73 0.238 0.335 0.476
2021 HAR (AA) 139 23 7 0 4 12 20 40 0.195 0.317 0.356
2022 HAR (AA) 324 67 8 1 18 49 40 96 0.239 0.333 0.468
2022 ABQ (AAA) 51 13 4 0 6 12 5 17 0.283 0.353 0.761
2022 COL (MLB) 84 17 5 2 1 7 8 30 0.224 0.298 0.382
2023 ABQ (AAA) 243 56 11 2 12 49 39 63 0.280 0.403 0.535
2023 COL (MLB) 19 4 1 0 1 1 2 3 0.235 0.316 0.471

Due to the fact that he faces right-handed pitchers way more often, we have a much larger sample size of production for Toglia from the left side to create a clearer picture of what he provides. What we have come to understand about Toglia from the left side is that he has plenty of pop and the ability to drive in runs. He fits in the mold of a Josh Bell type that can be a three-true outcomes type of player. Yes, strikeouts have been a bit of a problem and a higher average would be nice, but there is still plenty to like about his swing if he can find some consistency that has eluded him at times.

Major League right vs left

While we don’t have much in terms of minor-league split metrics (at least that I could find) for his right-handed hitting, we do have them from his big-league time. Thus far in his career, Toglia has simply hit better at Coors Field than the road by a good margin, especially right-handed. His batted ball profile also has some interesting differences. While his ground ball rates are pretty similar, Toglia has a 53.8% flyball rate right-handed which is over 20 points higher than as a left-handed batter. It’s also worth noting that he has generated more soft contact as a right-handed batter at 26.9% as opposed to 18.3% left-handed.

By all accounts, Toglia hits more line drives, makes harder contact, pulls the ball more, and even strikeouts out at a lower rate left-handed when he gets rolling. Again, we have to consider the fact that he doesn’t bat right-handed as much so the sample size is always going to be much smaller than when he bats left-handed. We also have to remember that he only has 151 plate appearances in total in the big leagues.

Yes, he faces a lot of struggles left-handed with his plate discipline and has a tendency to get too pull-happy and pop the ball up, but with as much experience as he has throughout his pro career, the choice to ditch batting right-handed could be helpful.

Switch-hitting examples

Many will point to the example of Cedric Mullins of the Baltimore Orioles. Throughout his pro career, he was a switch-hitter to okay results but wasn’t doing a whole lot once he arrived in the big leagues. Prior to the 2021 season, Mullins decided to stick to batting left-handed and ended up turning his big league career around. He belted 30 home runs while batting .291/.360/.518 and was named an All-Star. While he regressed slightly in 2022, he still turned in a great campaign for the Orioles and has continued to do so in 2023.

Mullins finding success doesn’t mean everyone will, even Toglia, but it’s something to consider. Making that change at the big league level is difficult and it’s better to make the change earlier rather than later.

Toglia’s teammate Ezequiel Tovar was originally a switch-hitter prior to his quick rise through the system. Early on the Rockies coaches and staff advised him to hit right-handed as he showed greater power potential and a shorter swing and it helped simplify his development. It has eventually paid off as he is now having a very solid offensive rookie season with the Rockies.

Hitting is hard enough in the majors, and trying to perfect two swings at all times is a skill that takes a special kind of player to establish in today’s game. It may be in Toglia’s best interest to just stick to one side of the plate to simplify his approach and development because what little advantages he may get from platooning himself may make no difference whatsoever for him in the long run.

There are some major expectations for Toglia to be the next great first baseman for the Rockies but time is running out if he can’t find a way to establish himself. Perhaps spending an offseason focusing on batting left-handed full-time could help him get over the offensive hurdles holding him back.


How this Rockies rookie got hot at the plate |

One other approach that Toglia is seeking to implement is a bit more aggression in the batter's box. Being more selective and ready to hit could help Toglia find some more consistency on both sides of the plate in order to jump on good pitches and not chase bad ones to hit.

Black: Rockies Could Be “More Active” On Summer Trade Market | MLB Trade Rumors

Bud Black usually hops on MLB Network Radio every other Tuesday and this week he mentioned that the Rockies could likely have the potential to be more active in the trade market. The team has fumbled the bag at the Trade Deadline over the past several years and fans are bracing for another similar situation this year but they still hope for the Rockies to clear out some veteran space for younger players to get a shot.


On the Farm

Triple-A: Albuquerque Isotopes 8, Sugarland Space Cowboys 3

Chris Flexen made his first start with Albuquerque since signing with the Rockies and it was a solid performance. He tossed 4 13 innings allowing one run (solo home run) on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He’ll likely need to make a few more starts to stretch out and potentially join the Rockies. The Isotopes rode a five-run sixth inning to help them secure the victory with Wynton Bernard and Aaron Schunk providing two hits a piece.

Double-A: Hartford Yard Goats 7, Somerset Patriots 5

It was a solid night for Jordan Beck in his first home game with the Yard Goats. He had two hits, a home run, and a triple while also scoring two runs. Yanquiel Fernandez also contributed a double and Warming Bernabel hit a home run. Nick Garcia started on the mound and tossed five innings, allowing one run on two hits with six strikeouts.

High-A: Vancouver Canadians 11, Spokane Indians 3

Spokane managed 11 hits, but they were all singles. Benny Montgomery managed three hits and Zach Kokoska had two. Blake Adams started on the mound and was roughed up for six runs on eight hits in 4 13 innings but did have seven strikeouts.

Low-A: Fresno Grizzlies 7, Modesto Nuts 2

Jake Snider turned in a three-hit night for Fresno to lead the offense while driving in two runs. Michael Prosecky started on the mound and spun 5 23 innings in which he allowed just one run on five hits with six strikeouts, giving way to a bullpen that gave up just one run.


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