There is only one hitter in baseball this season who has had a lot of success against New York Mets starter Marcus Stroman. Although Stroman has pitched against many teams all year long, he cannot avoid facing this guy each time.
Who is he and why is he unavoidable? Are teams trolling and putting the guy on waivers only to then claim him right before a Stroman start?
Major League Baseball is full of conspiracy theories this year, but this isn’t one of them. The hitter doing consistent damage against Stroman doesn’t own one soul. It’s a collection of guys. All of them bat third in the lineup.
Three-hole hitters are doing more damage than anyone else against the Mets starter
Every batter, at any given moment, will hit somewhere between 1 and 9 in the order. They may have started. They may have been substituted in. However it is they journeyed to the plate, they get assigned one of these numbers.
Stroman has had fantastic numbers against almost all of them. Clean-up hitters have hit .229/.260/.354 against him with a pair of home runs. Five-hole hitters have done the most home run damage with four dingers, but only a .222/.271/.533 slash line.
At the top of the order, leadoff hitters are batting .265/.327/.306 versus the Mets starter. They have been the second-best against him with all other spots in the lineup batting .229 or below. The only exception: the guys hitting third.
Number three hitters have gone a robust 18 for 50 versus Stroman. This works out to a .360/.373/.500 batting line. I’m not sure what it is but Stroman took until his most recent outing to walk a guy batting third. Maybe he should consider it more often when looking at the damage they have done.
It’s not exactly a shocker to see number three hitters cause so much chaos. In many lineups, they are the best player a team has. They’ll have a mix of power, average, and patience.
What does stand out is how much better guys hitting third have done compared to all other spots in the order. There are 93 points in the batting average separating them from guys taking the first hack. With no rhyme or reason for it, there is unfortunately not much Stroman can do to correct his other than to maybe be aware.
For comparison’s sake, Jacob deGrom (that’s not fair to compare the two!) has held number three hitters to only 2 hits in 36 at-bats. They’re hitting .057/.132/.057 against him. An added bonus to his dominance: both hits were singles.
In case you’re curious, it’s number five hitters who have done the most damage versus the Mets ace—from a slash line perspective. They’ve hit .235/.250/.382 in 36 opportunities.
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Leadoff hitters have had an interesting season against deGrom. They have a pair of home runs and doubles plus a triple against him. However, no guy batting first in the lineup has done what many leadoff men do so well: draw a walk. Every other spot in the order versus deGrom has seen ball four at least once.