The Cleveland Guardians can't hit lefties.
Over the last two seasons, the Guardians (as a team) are hitting .234 against southpaws with an MLB-worst .647 OPS. Both 2022 and 2023 would rank within the 15-worst offensive seasons by teams against lefties since 2015.
So, we're fading the Guardians against lefties right? Well... It's not quite that simple.
Here's a breakdown of why Cleveland struggles against southpaws and why we shouldn't be so quick to fade:
Why Can't Cleveland Hit Lefties?
Overall, the Guardians' offense isn't great. They rank 26th in overall team OPS and 27th in total runs. But, against lefties this year those ratings drop even more. The difference between Cleveland's OPS vs LHP and the second-worst team (.648 to .672) is the same gap as between the 29th and 22nd ranked offenses vs LHP.
The main cause for Cleveland's southpaw struggles is that almost all of the Guards' regular bats have worse splits against lefties. Only Andres Gimenez's numbers tick up vs LHP:
|Player||OPS vs RHP||OPS vs LHP|
No Cleveland hitter is more responsible for the lefty struggles than AL MVP candidate Jose Ramirez. He's the heartbeat of the Guardians' lineup, and his numbers this year plummet against LHP. He's got relatively balanced splits for his career (.875 OPS vs RHP, .817 vs LHP), but for some reason the switchhitter can't mash the southpaws this year. In 2023, Ramirez is hitting just .210 vs LHP with an OPS almost .300 points lower than his strong platoon side.
My theory on why Ramirez came up swinging against Tim Anderson earlier this season is because the White Sox's shortstop showed Ramirez his numbers against lefties:
Is Fading The Guardians vs LHP Profitable?
Okay, we've established the Guardians suck against lefties. Your natural next thought is to fade them. I'm right there with ya, that was my thought, too... Until I looked at Cleveland's betting trends against lefty starters the last two seasons:
|Year||Record vs LH SP||SU Profit vs LHP||Runline Record vs LH SP||Runline Profit vs LHP|
|2022||29-17||+10.90 Units||30-16||+11.08 Units|
|2023||18-23||-6.87 Units||16-25||-9.91 Units|
|Total||49-40||+4.03 Units||36-41||+1.17 Units|
For a team that's been impressively bad against left-handed pitching, the Guardians are weirdly profitable against the platoon split. Not only are they a bad fade, but they may actually be worth a wager vs LHP. It's hard to peg down exactly why Cleveland's weirdly respectable against lefties the past few years (from a betting perspective), but I have a few theories:
1) The books are aware of the Guardians' struggles vs LHP, and the lines accurately reflect that.
2) The Guardians are doing damage AFTER the lefty starters come out of the games. Since MLB Opening Day 2022, the Guardians have the eighth-best team batting average after the 7th inning and the lowest late-game strikeout rate in baseball.
The Actual Best Fade vs Southpaws
You've come this far, so I'm going to at least give you one betting nugget worth knowing. While the Guardians might be a risky fade vs lefties, the New York Mets are baseball's true worst betting squad vs LHP this year.
As a team the Mets are hitting .234 against lefties with a .692 OPS (24th in MLB). But, more importantly, they're 12-26 against left-handed pitchers this season and if you bet against New York for every game vs a lefty starter this season you'd be up 17.43 units, and counting.