Rays’ Yandy Diaz a 2020 breakout candidate?

By Seth Carter
Yandy Diaz (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Yandy Diaz (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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Yandy Diaz (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

It’s not all about the HR

For his career, Diaz has struck out in only 17.8% of his PAs. He walks in 10.4% of his plate appearances.

In 2017 with the Indians his BABIP was .336 and .360 (AAA). In 2018 his BABIP was a whopping .371. He’s always been a high BABIP guy due to his ability to hit the ball so hard and to all fields.

Yandy is a great contact hitter who often looks to go the other way. in 2018 in AAA-Indianapolis, Diaz pulled only 26.5% of hit batted-balls while he hit a whopping 42.7% to right field.

Diaz has always been an on-base machine, take a look at his OBP numbers from various stops throughout his career.

On-Base Percentages

  • 76 games in A+: .396
  • 158 games in AA: .417
  • 282 games in AAA: .415
  • 167 games in MLB: .350

Of all the things that improved for Diaz in his first season with the Rays, his on-base percentage was actually at an all-time low at .340. It’s nothing to complain about, just an interesting tidbit.

Prior to joining the Rays, Diaz was a guy that hit the ball very hard and on the ground. He made contact a lot and he walked a lot. His career average in the minors is .311.

Grounder Palooza

We asked earlier how a guy that hits the ball that hard can only hit one homer every 72 at-bats in the Minors. How could that guy hit one homer in his first 265 at-bats in the Majors? Even Billy Hamilton hits one every 133 ABs.

Yandy Diaz hits a ton of ground balls. in 2017 at AAA-Indianapolis, an unbelievable 63.5% of his batted balls were hit on the ground. If you don’t believe that, then how are you going to believe that in 2016 he put 65.7% of them on the ground.

It’s not hard to imagine why he hit .313 in the Minors, despite putting all of those balls on the ground. He hits the ball so hard it’s like trying to field a freight train.

His first stint with Indians in 2017 resulted in a 32.8% hard-hit percentage. In 2018 he brought it up to 44.4%, but again with 53.3% grounders, it didn’t equate to home runs.

In 2019 with the Rays, the ground ball rate reached an all-time low of 50.8%. He also increased his flyball rate from 23.3% to 32.0% and guess what started happening?