Tampa Bay Rays: With the offense ranking second in all of baseball in runs scored, the ranking belies some scuffling swingers.
The Tampa Bay Rays are off to a 4-3 start to 2020 after losing two straight to the Braves in Atlanta. The pitching staff is performing extremely well with a team ERA of 3.34 and 76 strikeouts in 62 innings pitched.
As the team packs up and heads to Baltimore to spend Friday night with our old friend Alex Cobb, we take a look at some hitters who we hope can build some momentum against the Orioles this weekend. One of those hitters is corner infielder, Yandy Diaz.
Yandy was acquired by the Rays the previous offseason with only one career home run to his name. After a minor adjustment to his swing, the serial groundball hitter was able to reach an all-time high in flyball percentage and cracked 14 homers in just 307 at-bats.
He still had a high groundball rate of 50.8% but it appears that is just a part of his game. He hits it hard enough that he consistently posts a solid BABIP on those grounders. So, what’s up with Yandy so far?
Tampa Bay Rays: Why is Yandy Diaz struggling?
Yandy Diaz led off last night’s game with good reason. His career numbers against lefties warrant a leadoff spot from one of the most jacked dudes in the game. However, Yandy is hitting just .111 on that short season thus far. When he makes contact he is back to driving everything straight down into the ground with a -3.8 launch angle.
Last season he put just over half of all of his batted balls on the ground but managed to drastically increase his flyball rate up to 32 percent, up from 18.9% in 2018 and 23.3% in 2019. While he’s still putting over half of his batted balls in the grass, this season his flyball rate currently sits at just 9.6 percent.
Tampa Bay Rays: Will Yandy Diaz start hitting?
Yes. He’ll be fine. In fact, Yandy has walked in an incredible 31.8% of his plate appearances thus far this season, keeping things positive with a .409 OBP as he looks to get the bat back in action. If he can continue to walk and have patience at the plate, he’ll start spraying some Yandy-rockets all over the field and should continue to be a viable leadoff threat against lefties.
Yandy is still hitting the ball hard, ranking in the 75th percentile in hard-hit percentage. His bat will come around and it shall be glorious.
It’s very early and a trip to Baltimore might be just what the doctor ordered to get a few of the struggling bats going. While his walk rate will go down, the hits will also come. I fully expect Handy to slug over .450 with a very solid on-base percentage by the time this season is over.