Colorado Rockies: Is Elias Díaz the most underrated catcher in the game?
If you asked this question just nine months ago, most Colorado Rockies fans would have said that you need your head examined. But Elias Díaz ended up having one of the best half-seasons by a Colorado Rockies catcher at the plate.
But is Rockies catcher Elias Díaz the most underrated catcher in all of baseball?
Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Díaz could be the most underrated catcher in all of baseball
From June 2 through the end of the season, Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Díaz hit .284/.348/.553 in 78 games. That was good enough for a 124 wRC+. As we discussed in this article a few weeks ago, that was the 4th-best of any catcher in that span by wRC+, only behind Will Smith, Salvador Perez, and Buster Posey.
That’s part of the reason why Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter chose Díaz for his “all-underrated team” heading into the 2022 season.
Díaz’s production also is part of the reason why Dom Nuñez saw so little playing time in the second half of the season. From the All-Star break on, Díaz appeared in 55 games and started 44 whereas Nuñez appeared in 29 and started in 26. In the first half, Díaz appeared in 51 and started 43 and Nuñez appeared in 52 and started 48.
For Díaz, from June 2 on, he had 17 homers, 40 RBI, and had a slash line of .284/.348/.553. That’s a 162-game average of 35 homers and 83 RBI. Most surprisingly, though, is that Díaz actually had a little bit of bad luck in that span.
His power seems likely to see a bit of a drop as his homerun per flyball rate (HR/FB) was above league average and his expected slugging percentage (xSLG) was nearly 40 points below his actual slugging percentage (.426 to .464) but his average and on-base percentage are below where it would be expected.
Per Statcast, his expected batting average (xBA) and expected on-base percentage (xOBA) were three and 10 points higher than what he actually had in 2021. Additionally, he had a Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) of .284, when the league average is .300.
In other words, it seems like Díaz could sustain his average and on-base abilities but the power numbers are likely to see a slight reduction.
With the current state of catchers at the plate, though, Díaz is still one of the better hitting catchers in the game and one of the most underrated, if the most underrated, catchers in the game.