Colorado Rockies outfielder Yonathan Daza was, and still is, known as the best defensive outfielder in the Rockies system.
The problem for him was always “Will his bat develop enough to warrant him being at the major league level everyday?”
It was still a question in spring training that we were unsure of entering the season.
But so far, in 2021, that answer is yes, he can hit at the MLB level.
Entering play on Saturday, Daza has had 92 plate appearances (which is eighth-most on the Rockies) and he has hit .337/.363/.430 and a 109 OPS+, which is third-highest of any Rockies player with more than 30 plate appearances (again, entering Saturday).
What is Daza’s secret to developing his bat at the major league level?
Yonathan Daza spoke with the media, including Rox Pile, after Friday’s 9-6 win against Cincinnati and he was asked about how he has developed his bat in recent weeks and months.
"“Honestly, just hard work and just continuing to work … with (hitting coach Dave Magadan) and constantly working to get my swing right and working to be consistent,” said Daza through translator Aaron Muñoz, one of the team’s bullpen catchers."
He also said that he has mainly been working on his timing at the plate.
Manager Bud Black thinks that it’s a combination of things for Daza.
"“There’s a little more strength to his swing and I think the approach is a little better too,” said Black. “I think his mechanics are a little more consistent where his bat path and his hands–you hear the term ‘stay inside the ball’–and I think he’s doing that much more consistently and better.“I think that’s where you see more up the middle base hits (and) the base hits to right field. That tells me that his bat path is being pretty consistent. The balls that he pulls are usually softer breaking balls that you have to (hit more on the) ground … but I think the thing that sticks out more for me is there’s more bat speed and strength to his swing and it’s just a touch more compact …”"
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Timing is a huge part of all hitters since the difference between a tenth of a second at the plate is the difference between hitting a home run or completely missing the ball.
A few weeks ago, manager Bud Black said that he thought timing was Charlie Blackmon’s biggest issue at the plate when he was hitting .148/.278/.262 through his first 19 games but in his last 17 games, he has hit .339/.406/.435.
Here are Daza’s offensive stats in 2019 and 2021, for comparison.
- 2019: 105 PA’s, .206/.257/.237, 24 OPS+
- 2021: 92 PA’s, .337/.363/.430, 109 OPS+
Daza has been red-hot lately as he currently has a five-game hitting streak. In that streak, he is 10-for-14 with four runs, three doubles, three RBI, three walks, and a slash line of .714/.750/.929.
Obviously, that’s not going to be a sustainable mark for the entire season but there is no question that Daza’s bat has been better.
Statcast’s “expected” numbers (which is based off of where a player hits a ball and how he hits the ball) for Daza on the season indicate that he has had some good luck but still, those numbers have gone up substantially since 2019.
Statcast’s Expected Stats for Yonathan Daza
- 2019 expected stats: .202 xBA, .235 xwOBA, .249 xwOBACON, .258 xSLG
- 2021 expected stats: .268 xBA, .289 xwOBA, .332 xwOBACON, .342 xSLG
We’ll have to see whether or not he will be able to continue the success at the major league level this year but with the amount of injuries the Rockies have had and trades that may happen in the near future, Daza will likely get plenty of playing time to prove whether or not he should be part of the Rockies future plans.