The Best Lefthanded Batters and Lefthanded Pitchers in Baseball
Special Achievement Award
Lefthanded Pitcher Jim Abbott
All-Time Greatest Lefthanded Pitchers
Jim Abbott is a lefthanded pitcher who spent 10 years in the major leagues (1989-1999), 6 of them with the California Angels and the rest split between the Yankees, the White Sox, and the Brewers. Abbott’s career totals include 87 games won, 108 games lost, and a 4.25 ERA in 263 games (254 starts) and 1674 innings pitched, not good enough to earn Hall of Fame consideration. In his best year (1991 with the Angels) he did win 18 games with a 2.89 ERA, but he did not earn All-Star honors that year or any other. He did lead the league in hits allowed in 1990, and he lead the lead in losses with 18 (only 2 wins and a 7.48 ERA) during an awful 1996 campaign. Beside that one awful season, he was a durable starter who usually kept his team in the game and gave them a chance to win.
There are a lot of pitchers with comparable career numbers who won’t make it onto our website, because we want to focus on those who were among the best on their era. What makes Jim Abbott worthy of our attention and admiration is that he became a major league pitcher despite being born without a right hand. When he pitched he rested his fielders’ glove on his right forearm, and after he threw the ball he slipped the glove onto his left hand. If he caught the ball with his glove, he would flip the ball in the air, remove the glove from his hand, and complete the throw across the infield.
Abbott was a pitcher and a quarterback in high school, but focused on baseball at University of Michigan, where he was an All-American. He was the eighth overall pick of the 1988 amateur draft, and jumped straight from college to the majors without ever playing minor league ball. Some teams tried to take advantage of him by bunting and forcing him to field and throw the ball more than pitchers might have to, but he fielded his position reasonably well. He also got to bat in his one year in the National League, and he managed to get 2 hits and 3 RBI, and 3 sacrifice bunts, in 24 plate appearances.