Aledmys Diaz had a tremendous rookie season for the Cardinals in 2016. Could he parlay that success into a breakout season in 2017?
Aledmys Diaz burst onto the scene last season for the Cardinals and solidified himself as one of the better talents in MLB. He ended the season with a .300/17 HR/65 RBI/71 R/.879 OPS line, becoming one of the best waiver wire gems of 2016. But, could he be even better in 2017?
Diaz came to the states in 2014 and entered the Cardinals’ system as a talented prospect out of Cuba. He did not have monster seasons in the minors but quickly moved through the system, making the big-league club out of spring training. All he would then do is earn an All-Star bid, and finish in the top-5 of the Rookie of the Year voting.
If not for a broken right hand that would cost him all of August, his numbers may have rivaled that of eventual Rookie of the Year winner, Corey Seager, so Diaz’s season was tremendous nonetheless. He also notched 28 doubles, and 41 walks as well, helping him amass his .510 SLG. His 40 BB were also impressive, as he was able to notch those in 111 games last season.
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The injury slowed his consistency down as well. From April-July, he batted at least .275 per month, while notching at least 3 HR/13 RBI as well. He was cruising right along until the injury. Even though he returned in September, the ramifications of the injury were still felt, as he would struggle with strength in his right arm to close the season.
His batted ball data bodes well moving forward as well. He posted 16% LD, 46% GB, 39% FB, 49% Med, and 33% Hard contact rates. Now the LD rate is low and he needs to offset that with a dip in his GB rate. But, the FB rate, Med and Hard contact are great.
Especially when you take into the account the sheer distance he was averaging per home run. Based on ESPN’s home run tracker, his AVG distance was 401 ft. and his AVG speed off the bat per HR was 105 mph. He was simply mashing the ball nearly all season.
The shortstop position has gained more depth in years past, and Diaz is one the main reasons. He should be locked in as a top-10 SS, with the potential to challenge becoming a top-5 performer. The AVG will be there, he was a career .275 hitter in the minors and his BABIP was only a modest .312 last season. He may not be a perennial .300 hitter, but a .270-.285 clip is not out of the question.
WIth Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter flanking him, the Cards’ lineup will offer plenty of counting stats. Target Diaz on draft day, next spring as he is right on the cusp of having his true breakout season.