The platoon system is a way to handle situational mass replacement of players to build a tactical advantage. Baseball is a means of dividing the time when two players are picked to play a defensive role. One platoon player is usually on the right, while the other is on the left. The peloton’s right-hand side is generally used on days where the starting pitcher is to the left, and the left-hander otherwise is played. The reasoning behind this is that usually, players strike the opposite side better. In some situations, the difference is sufficient to complement the player with one of the opposite hands.
The terms for the tactic platoon system involved “double-batting changes, “reversible outfields, and switch-around players.” Tris Speaker called the tactic “triple change,” since he had three slots. In the late 1940s, the word “plateau” was coined. Now leading the New York Yankees, Stengel became a well-known promoter of the platoon system and won five World Series championships in a row from 1949 to 1953. In writing for the New York Herald, Harold Rosenthal called Stengel’s technique a “tub” and became a “two-pipe.” From the late 1980s up to the 1990s, platoons declined in number as teams expanded to eliminate platoon benefits for batters. In recent years, however, platoons have grown.
Right-handed hitters have the edge over left-handed pitchers, and right-handed pitchers lose. That is when a right pitch curveball splits from its point of view to the left, making it possible for batters to catch the ball over the plates, away from a hitter in the right hand, not in the left hand. Moreover, since most pitchers are left-handed, leftover pitchers typically have lower experience.
In the platoon system, a left-handed pitcher will often be met by a switch-hitter who bats typically with the left hand, causing the batter to step into his less productive position on the right or to bathe with a left-hand pitcher. Platooning is negatively visible. Players tend to play each day, and managers, like Walter Alston, are concerned that sharing time could diminish confidence. New York Mets’ Mookie Wilson applied to trade for three seasons with Lenny Dykstra in 1988 after working in a platoon.