Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher Elias Diaz Is Due To Get Hot
Despite a slow start to the season statistically, Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz is still hitting the ball well and is due to get hot
Baseball is a crazy game. There is no other sport where you can do everything right and still fail the way you can in baseball. But, hey, baseball is not easy. It is a game built on failure. And that is one of the things that makes it the greatest sport in the world.
A fine example of all of this is Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz. After starting the season in the injured list, Diaz is off to a brutal start this season offensively. However, he has hit the ball much better than the results would indicate. This is something that should give Pirate fans hope for Diaz.
In 38 plate appearances this season Diaz is slashing .135/.158/.162. He owns a 2.6% walk rate, 21.1% strikeout rate, .027 ISO, he’s collected just one extra base hit, and his wRC+ is -17. Believe it or not, all of this is bad.
However, there is reason to believe Diaz is close to heating up at the plate.
Diaz’s batting average with balls in play (BAbip) is just .172. League average BAbip is .300. A BAbip of .172 indicates that Diaz has been the victim of some awful, awful luck. When a hitter is making quality contact and has a low BAbip, that is a sign of a hitter due for a hot streak and this leads us into the next point which is Diaz is hitting the ball hard.
His average exit velocity is 91.5 MPH, which is 2.5 MPH higher than the league average of 89 MPH. Furthermore, his 34.5% hard contact rate is above league average while his 17.2% soft contact rate is the lowest of his MLB career.
Now the key for Diaz is not to get frustrated over his slow start and press. If he continues to do what he has done, make quality contact on a consistent basis, and hit the ball hard, then the hits will begin to drop.
The importance of Diaz heating up is only increased due to the struggles of Francisco Cervelli. The veteran backstop is slashing .179/.269/.236 this season, and, unlike Diaz, is not making quality contact. Cervelli’s 86.2 MPH average exit velocity is below league average, and he is putting the ball on the gorund far too often (47% groundball rate). It is not unreasonable to think all the injuries that Cervelli has suffered in his career are catching up to him.
So far this season the Pirates have gotten close to nothing offensively from third base, shortstop, and catcher. This is a big reason the team is 21-19, instead of having an additional two or three wins thus far. The team needs at least two of these positions to begin producing offensively, and soon. It appears Diaz will be able to make this happen at catcher sooner rather than later.
Despite his poor results offensively, Elias Diaz has hit the ball better than at any point in his MLB career this season. All signs point toward Diaz being a hitter due to get hot and in a big way. With the Pirate offense in need of help, hopefully, this hot streak comes soon.