Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Barry Bonds and Lou Gehrig are known for being some of the best baseball players ever to play the game. Interestingly, every one of them batted left-handed [source: Trueblood]. Some of the greatest pitchers of all time were Southpaws too, including Sandy Koufax, Tom Glavine and Randy Johnson [source: ESPN]. So, in a world where only about 10 percent of the population is believed to be left-handed, why are 25 percent of Major League Baseball players lefties? Some of the sheer mechanics of the sport give lefties a competitive edge.
Left-handed pitchers enjoy a couple of distinct advantages. First, they physically face or "open up" to first base, which makes it harder for runners to steal. Simply put, they can pick them off more easily because of the directional advantage. It's also something of a numbers game. Since lefties are comparatively rare, batters have fewer opportunities from childhood on up to practice hitting against a lefty pitcher. This is also an issue that lefty batters deal with when facing down left-handed pitchers.
Left-handed batters have a visual advantage because they naturally face the ball as it comes toward them. Righties, however, have to see it coming from over the left shoulder. Once they successfully crack the ball, lefties are able to follow the natural momentum of their swing on through to first base, giving them an average 5-foot (1.5-meter) head start on righties. This makes them get to first base one-sixth of a second faster [source: Live Science].