Yonathan Daza, a homegrown prospect for the Colorado Rockies, has finally received the playing time he needed to show his ability at the big league level. Daza has seen sporadic playing time since 2019, but he is already halfway to his career-high of 301 at-bats, and having the best year of his career in 2022.
Daza has seen most of his playing time in center field and earned a start in 11 of the club’s last 12 games entering Thursday. He has the best batting average on the team at .333, and the second-best OPS at .768 (but he is just short of the necessary at-bats to qualify). How sustainable is Daza’s recent surge to being one of the best hitters on the Rockies?
Colorado Rockies outfielder Yonathan Daza has had success in 2022 but he could see some regression here soon
Yonathan Daza’s basic statistics have looked fantastic in his season so far. His .333 average would be 4th in the MLB if Daza had 50 more at-bats to qualify for the title. With the eye test, Daza has looked to be Colorado’s best defensive outfielder as well, and one of the few capable of playing CF.
However, advanced statistics have been less kind to the 28-year-old. Daza’s slugging percentage has actually been LOWER than his solid OBP of .387. He has shown very little ability to hit for power his entire career, with just two home runs in 201 career games and an astonishingly low .059 isolated slugging percentage (ISO).
Even with these concerning low power numbers, he has still managed to produce a 107 WRC+ (7 percent above league average) and 0.5 WAR, both numbers well above what was projected.
Daza has always had a high BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play), with a career number of .341, but this year’s number sits at .380, which would be sixth in MLB if he had enough at-bats to qualify.
This number is a cause for concern and shows that he may have some serious regression ahead of him. Low power hitters are generally not able to sustain finding the holes for base hits, even if Daza has done a great job through 147 at-bats.
Daza’s defense has not projected well either, as he sits at a whopping -5 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), the second-worst on the team. He has been an above-average defender in LF and RF in his career but has seen awful numbers in CF, which could be a sign that he needs to be moved.
He has shown an ability to defend at a high level, so perhaps with his more consistent playing time, he will improve in the more difficult outfield position. Still, Daza can greatly increase his value and prospects as an everyday outfielder with better defensive play.
Overall, Daza has performed fantastically so far in 2022 as he has been one of the few bright spots for an underwhelming Rockies team sitting at last place in the NL West.
However, there are causes for concern that he might be headed toward some regression, and that his defensive play has been costly. It appears that the Colorado Rockies have trust in him to play every day to see what he is worth, so Daza will have a chance to prove he can sustain the level he is playing at, and be a valuable piece for a rebuilding Rockies team moving forward.