Postseason Player To Watch: Could Yandy Diaz Become 2019s Version Of Daniel Murphy?

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Coming out of the NL Wild Card game it was a pitcher who grabbed our attention, and while Charlie Morton had a strong outing by now everyone knows what he brings to the table. Instead in last night’s matchup between the Rays and A’s it was Yandy Diaz who stole the show.

Diaz set the tone for the night slugging a leadoff home run off of Sean Manaea, before taking him deep again in the third. Finishing the night 3-4 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R, Diaz led the way to a Rays’ victory. The question for fantasy owners is if the performance could be the sign of a breakout, something that many hoped would come prior to the season.

Acquired from the Indians before the start of ’19, injuries limited Diaz to 79 games. However, when he was one the field the numbers were solid:

.267 (82-307), 14 HR, 38 RBI, 53 R, 2 SB

He added 20 doubles and 1 triple, showing the potential to add more power to his repertoire (even with being on a near 30 HR pace already). All it would take is a few less groundballs (50.8% in ’19) to truly get there, since there’s no red flags in his 17.5% HR/FB. Just a marginal change would make a big difference, and at 28-years old it’s easy to envision.

Then you have the average, with all signs supporting a better mark than his already usable number:

  • Hard% – 42.4%
  • Oppo% – 27.2%
  • SwStr% – 9.3%
  • O-Swing% – 25.3%
  • BABIP – .288

The ability to hit the ball hard and willingness to use the entire field alone would justify a significantly more upside in his BABIP. Throw in the ability to make consistent contact (17.6% strikeout rate) and it all comes together for a perfect package.

There was a distinct split in his production this year, as he struggled against both RHP (.245 over 204 AB) and on the road (.235 over 149 AB). Of course BABIP of .261 and .241, respectfully, was the cause for the issues. Instead of looking towards it as a sign for concern, instead look at his production at home (.297 with 7 HR over 158 AB), which came courtesy of a .333 BABIP, and realize what is possible.

If you wanted to get picky the only “negative” is a lack of speed, but it’s easy to envision the already solid hitter taking a significant step forward both in the playoffs and beyond. Already locking in eligibility at both 1B and 3B for next season, could he string together an impressive run and become this year’s version of Daniel Murphy? Time will tell, but if we see a similarly impressive run through the playoffs don’t make the mistake of overlooking it.

Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs

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