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"He’s old and not really all that good on the whole, but he can nail lefties without being out of his depth against same-handed pitching."

I almost certainly believe it means that he's good at dealing with lefties as opposed to his ability to deal with righties because of the word AGAINST. (In other words, I thought the writer was trying to say he's much better dealing with lefties than righties.)

My question is, however, someone strongly advised me that the meaning of sentence has no underlying implication of comparison. and, I should read it like "he's not bad playing against righties but also good at playing against lefties".

In summary, I was originally thinking that the player was good against lefties, but bad against righties. He's thinking that the player was good against lefties, and okay (or, at least, not bad) against righties.

Can someone clarify this? Which opinion is more acceptable in this case?

  • You're right. The author is talking about the "platoon advantage" (see Wikipedia, Platoon System). The player is clearly not very good against righties (because he's not all that good on the whole, and he is good against lefties), he's just not so bad that he's hopeless. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 19 '15 at 2:56
  • @Nathan Let me rephrase my question again. I wonder whether I can read the sentence like he can nail lefties without being out of his depth in opposition to same-handed pitching. That's what I originally thought. – Jinseok Oh Aug 19 '15 at 9:22
  • @JinseokOh: I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're trying to draw, as that's already how the question appears to read. – Nathan Tuggy Aug 19 '15 at 13:43
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He’s old and not really all that good on the whole, but he can nail lefties without being out of his depth against same-handed pitching.

He's not a great player (any more, now that he's old) but he can still hit well when being pitched to by a left-hander ... he is not outclassed when facing a right-handed pitcher.

Who can say exactly what the original author meant by "without"-- for being a good hitter when facing a pitcher throwing with the opposite hand does not necessarily imply that one will be a bad hitter when facing a pitcher throwing with the same hand. Yet the original author seems to think that practicing against opposite-handed pitchers will detract in some way from one's hitting against same-handed pitchers. The original author could have said "while" or simply "and" instead.

He’s old and not really all that good on the whole, but he can nail lefties [and is not] out of his depth against same-handed pitching.

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The person you talked to is correct. Here's why. "Against" right-handed pitchers (that is, when batting against them), one might think he was "out of his depth" — seriously inferior, struggling just to barely manage — but that idea would be wrong: he has no such problems against those pitchers. He's better at batting against southpaws, but not really bad in any case.

  • Marlon Byrd, the subject of this sentence, is hitting .280/.344/.500 against lefties—very respectable. Against righties he’s hitting .229/.274/.443—about all he’s got is some pop to occasionally interrupt an abysmal AVE and OBP. – StoneyB on hiatus Aug 19 '15 at 3:31

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