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 Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Regarding average exit velocity, Yandy has found himself grouped among some of the game’s elite hitters the past couple of years.

Aaron Judge leads the way with an incredible 95.9 mph average off the bat. The next closest was Miguel Sano at 94.4. Judge is head and shoulders above everyone else.

Let’s compare Yandy’s batted ball percentages from 2019 to some of the game’s hardest-hitting sluggers from last year, to see if he’s there or where he still needs to improve.

Player //Exit Velo//LD% //GB% //FB% //HR-FB%//Hard-hit (95mph+)
A. Judge // 95.9 (1st)// 27.3 // 40.3 // 32.4 // 35.1 // 53.8
C. Yelich//93.1 (5th)// 20.9 // 43.2 // 35.9 // 32.8 // 50.8
J. Donaldson//92.9 (7th)// 21.5 // 42.2 // 36.4 // 25.7 // 47.5
J. Abreu // 92.1 (16th) // 21.7 // 46.3 // 31.9 //21.0 //40.7
M. Olson // 91.9 (19th) // 24.0 // 31.4 // 44.6 // 23.7 // 50.3
Y. Diaz  // 91.7 (23rd) //17.2 // 50.8 // 32.0 // 17.5 // 42.4


Diaz’s increase in flyballs led to a lower average and on-base percentage. He hit more flyballs but if you don’t hit a flyball out of the park, it’s likely an out. As you can see, his home run to flyball rate was not in the same league as these elite power-hitters…Although I’m not saying it could not get there. 

Since the Rays don’t appear to have any intention of revamping his swing (outside of very minor adjustments) I wouldn’t expect him to become a prodigious home run hitter with moon-shot after moon-shot, despite having the strength.

It just isn’t his swing.

Yandy has a very level swing, which is not very “in.” The key to Yandy’s power is actually on the ground and in line-drives. His flyballs were not as fruitful.

If he isn’t going to alter his swing completely then we may not want him hitting 30%+ flyballs…Although, I’m open to seeing him make the transition cause he’s got insane power.

Here’s his first home run as a Ray…his second Major League homer, ever! It was off of some guy name Gerrit Cole. The announcers labeled it a “clothesline” and a “laser beam.” They said the Rays were lucky it didn’t knock the wall down in centerfield (presumably because they can’t afford to replace it.) 

That home run had a launch angle of 17 degrees, according to Statcast.