Ryan Roberts joined the Rays with the dreaded “left-handed pitching masher” reputation; the same label Gabe Kapler and Kelly Shoppach brought with them to the Rays, only to find a mixed bag of results. History supported the tag. Roberts entered the year with an .840 OPS against lefties—.139 points better than against righties—and held a .116-point advantage in-season, during his time with the Diamondbacks. Naturally, Roberts has hit right-handers better than lefties with the Rays, to the tune of a .300-point edge (thanks to a .450 OPS against southpaws).
Under normal circumstances, labeling the disparity a small sample creation would work. But this is not normal circumstances. Roberts has struck out 15 times against lefties while walking just once. He entered the season with 16 more strikeouts than walks against southpaws throughout his career. That means Roberts has almost doubled the gap in a 45-plate appearance span. It’s possible, perhaps probable, that this is still nothing but numbers playing tricks on us. Keep an eye on how Roberts fares against left-handers going forward, just to be sure.