VS. Left-Handed Pitching
Kevin Cash is a master at mixing and matching to get the most of his roster. Let’s take a look at some of the left-handed destroyers he’ll be able to roll out in 2020.
We start with Jose Martinez. Martinez should see most of his time at DH with perhaps some time at first base. We’ll see if he can handle the glove this spring. One thing we know he can handle is left-handed pitching. While Martinez is an assassin from both sides of the plate, he leads the Rays in career wRC+ against left-handed pitching (more than 28 PAs) with a comically astronomical 160 wRC+ when facing lefties.
Also newly acquired defensive wizard, Hunter Renfroe has another side to him. Not only did he clobber 33 homers last season, but his career wRC+ versus left-handed pitching is a phenomenal 139. He has slashed .269/.345/.579 against southpaws in his career with 31 career homers in just 390 at-bats. Make sure you have him in your daily fantasy lineups when the Rays face left-handed starters. Hurry back James Paxton!
Everyone’s favorite pick for breakout player in 2020, Yandy Diaz has a career 128 wRC+ against LHP. Yandy has posted a .294 average, a .387 on-base, and a whopping .466 slugging against them. His .466 slugging percentage is even more impressive when you consider that he had one career home run prior to coming to the Rays last season.
Next on the list is Austin Meadows tied with Yandy at 128 wRC+. This is what makes this kid so dangerous. Lefty, righty, it doesn’t matter. That’s why I think he’s a future MVP. Meadows has a career slash of .280/.327/.534 against pitchers who wear their gloves on their right hands. So, at least this year when the three-batter rule forces an opposing manager to leave his right-handed reliever against Meadows, he can rest easy knowing it wouldn’t matter who was on the mound.
Rounding out the list of above-average hitters against left-handed pitching is Michael Brosseau (115 wRC+ in 73 PAs), Michael Perez (115 in 25 PAs), and Manuel Margot. Margot has a career 106 wRC+ against lefties. This could make him a likely replacement for Kiermaier (83 wRC+) on days the Rays face lefties. Margot will provide a boost to the offense without much of a defensive sacrifice.
I would also like to note, despite only having 28 PAs, Nate Lowe came in with the highest wRC+ on the team against LHP with 168. He also led the team in slugging vs. LHP with .625. It’s a small sample size but we know he has the potential to be a monster. It should be interesting to see if Cash can find a place for the slugging first baseman.