Matt Diaz

If history is any guide, will start out platooning and eventually sometime during the summer take over left field more or less full time, probably two weeks too late. At least, that’s how it’s worked the last two seasons. Diaz topped his .328 mark in 2006 with .337 in 2007; I think we can safely say that’s his range. He hit 12 home runs in 358 AB, so you can’t even say he doesn’t have enough power anymore. He doesn’t walk, but will get hit by a pitch, and at the risk of repeating what I wrote last year at this time, .337 covers up a lot of ills.

Turns 30 in March, but has only 778 career major league ABs, little more than one season’s worth. Most of those ABs are in the last two years, 655 of them. In that “season” with the Braves, he’s hit .333/.366/.487, 218 hits, 19 HR, 81 R, 77 RBI. It’s essentially any given Tony Gwynn year. I’m not saying that Diaz is as good as Gwynn, but you’d think that would be enough to win at least a chance at a regular job.

In 2006, Diaz hit better against righties than lefties. Last year, that wasn’t the case: he was essentially Vlad Guerrero against lefthanders (.356 .384 .580) and… well, not Wil Guerrero, but a lot worse, against righthanders (.318 .350 .406) Even that’s not too bad, and a lot better than Willie Harris. I would guess that he’s going to hit for high averages against everyone, and not walk against anyone, but most of his power is going to come against lefties… Absolutely destroyed ground-ball pitchers to the tune of .355 .384 .602; this includes half his home runs in little more than a quarter of his ABs. Of course, groundball pitchers are dispropotionately lefthanded.

Defensive stats are quite good; defensive appearance and reputation are very bad. His stats in 2007 aren’t as good as in 2006, but he looked somewhat better. The Braves really don’t like his defense, apparently, which is one reason they won’t play him everyday… Stole four bases without getting caught.

Matt Diaz Statistics – Baseball-Reference.com

82 thoughts on “Matt Diaz”

  1. I will accept any credible reason for not playing him every day, but I sure can’t think of one.

  2. Just look at his splits, and his numbers of a “season” of at bats. .333/.366/.487, 218 hits, 19 HR, 81 R, 77 RBI. Thats more than acceptable from a corner OF.

    FREE MATT DIAZ

  3. Watching Matt play I am amazed that he actually can hit the ball. His swing is a looping kind downward slash. The back stretch thing is unusual too. What the heck, the guy can hit. He should be the full time LF. No doubt about it.

    Man o man am I gonna miss TBS this summer.

  4. And damn it, he hustles. He beat out at least about 5 potential double plays at first last year by absolutely giving it everything he has.

    Actually Vlad was an interesting comparison. He can turn a pitch within 5 inches of the strike zone into a line drive at an astonishing rate.

    Wishing and hoping. Matt, don’t swing at the bad stuff. You could 330 / 400 / 500 if you would just lay off a little of it. Please! For you and for us!

  5. Platooning Diaz in order to have a cheap means of playing a league average LF is becoming more and more flimsy — let the guy play and see what happens.

  6. Sign me up for the Free Diaz campaign.

    He flat out hits and plays hard. His defense is entertainingly ugly, but he gets it done.

  7. I thought his fielding improved last year. He’s as good a fielder as someone who looks and moves like Thing is likely to get.

  8. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I don’t care if he’s running zig-zags out there in left field. If he gets it done a sheer majority of the time, he can just run around in circles too.

  9. In defense of the partial platoon (which I really don’t like).

    Against righthanders, Diaz is serviceable, but not great. If Brandon Jones is out of options or is otherwise going to be on the Major League roster (and the difference in his offensive potential as compared to Blanco and Anderson says that possibly Jones should be outfielder #4) , they can’t just sit Brandon. His development will be totally messed up.

    If, however, they go with defense for outfielder 4 (Anderson?) and have Infante available, and don’t carry a 5th outfielder, and B. Jones has options, then maybe Anderson once a week gets a start in left against a righthander and once a week in center.

    But Matt, just take a few walks!! then they can’t afford to platoon you!!!

  10. Add me to the “Free Matt Diaz” campaign. What else does he have to do to play everyday?

    And Mac, you seem to be criticizing his numbers against righthanders – those are great numbers? His numbers against lefthanders are just even better.

  11. i’ve been a big fan of diaz since he was at florida state.his brother was a pretty good relief pitcher, i wonder what happened to him………..c’mon bobby set him free.

  12. .350 OBP/.406 slugging are not great numbers. The (adjusted) league OBP last year was .338 and the league slugging percentage was .430. At best, he was average. For a left fielder, he was far below. I don’t think that his platoon split will be that great in the future.

  13. Normally a guy whose stats are BA driven sort of scares me as a regular but Diaz has proven that he can get the head of the bat on the ball. Defensively I didn’t think he looked that bad. Better than KJ thats for sure. I guess someone needs to get Mr. Diaz a copy of the pictured for him to start.

  14. “It’s essentially any given Tony Gwynn year. I’m not saying that Diaz is as good as Gwynn, but you’d think that would be enough to win at least a chance at a regular job.”

    The elephant in the room here is Bobby Cox’s stupidity, right? I mean, we all usually love Bobby – well, his track record, which is essentially the same thing – but I say we can call this stupid. It’s ridiculous. Let the man play every day.

  15. Diaz treatment has been… interesting. He was acquired from KC for a minor league pitcher, Ricardo Rodriguez. (In the two seasons since he was traded away, Rodriguez has pitched 9 innings.) So he wasn’t developed here, wasn’t acquired for someone important enough to notice, and was perceived as competing with the Braves’ own, inferior prospects (Langerhans!). Thus he’s been consistently slighted. Will Wren recognize the value we have here? An above-average LF for $500,000 or less is a huge competitive advantage.

    Johnny’s right. Diaz needs The Pictures.

  16. A big negative on all of the platoons has been that our lineup gets one sided and vulnerable to ROOGY’s and LOOGY’s.

    Bobby, hold this lineup, please.

    1. KJ
    2. Esco
    3. Chip (he needs Esco in front to make a LOOGY a one player pitcher)
    4. Tex
    5. McCann (need the OBP and need more left handed protection behind Tex, who otherwise might face a ROOGY)
    6. Frenchy
    (here’s where it gets dicey depending on whether B. Jones platoons or partial platoons with Diaz) If full platoon, let them stay like this and
    7. Diaz / B. Jones.

    If no platoon, bat 5. Frenchy, then 6. McCann, then 7. Diaz.

    Followed by: our centerfielder
    8. Kotsay / Anderson / Blanco / Lillibridge / Schaffer.

    Last year too many of the ROOGY / LOOGY group hurt us badly by facing two to three players at a time, particularly when we sent out our “lefty killer” lineup.

    We should score 5.5 per game (we did that with Tex with Esco for Rent half of the time and with Diaz in right almost all of the time), 880 total. If we can drop runs against by 30 (the #5 disaster replaced by Glavine and Hampton / Jurrjens / 2008 Reyes, and if the bullpen is mediocre or better for the whole season (with good to excellent streaks, but with no extended periods of “stink ’em up”) then we can win 95. In fact SHOULD WIN 90.

  17. Actually, Brian J., Diaz will cost 1.25 million this year versus major league minimum the last two years.

    In defense of Bobby on the platoon, he has to develop players and compete for a pennant at the same time.

    When Diaz came to the Braves he had been DEMOLISHED by right handers at the major league level (in limited play, but he had done o.k. at AAA). He also had a TERRIBLE defensive rep that was justified. The big wild card was the new contact lenses. Clearly that made him a better hitter and a better fielder.

    And, most of us on here like the fact that maybe they were sceptical of a high BA / low ISO player.

  18. I have not been upset with the platoon in left to this point. I think BC has put Diaz into a great position to succeed. That being said, I think he definately deserves a shot a full time slot now. If it doesn’t work out, just go back to the platoon. But you can’t tell me we couldn’t use this .333/.366/.487 out of left.

  19. You know, I looked in my time machine, and in 2018 Bill James calls Matt Diaz “the second most-underrated player ever, after Darrell Evans.”

    Matt Diaz for the Hall of Fame!

  20. I also think that his defense improved a lot last year. He actually made some nice plays out there.

  21. As someone else pointed out earlier, Diaz hustles. He gets the ball back in to the infield in a hurry, making runners think twice about taking an extra base.

  22. I have not been upset with the platoon in left to this point. I think BC has put Diaz into a great position to succeed.

    Exactly. Bobby has put Diaz is position to succeed, he has succeeded, and – of course – you’ve got fans upstream here calling Bobby stupid. That’s fans for you.

    Diaz is servicable against RHP, but I expect him to continue to be platooned. It’s probably the right move.

  23. He stopped overrunning fly balls by several feet. That was a good start.

    If Brandon Jones makes the team, there will be a platoon.

  24. Also, it’s extremely hard to see how things have worked out for the best when you examine the batting records of Braves left fielders who aren’t Matt Diaz over the last two seasons.

  25. Those leftfielders being the firm of Langerhans, Thorman, and Harris, with emeritus member Jordan and cameos by B-Jones and PTG Orr. Seriously, Diaz couldn’t have been any worse.

  26. Yeah, only during that stretch where Willie Harris was on fire was the platoon actually worth doing.

    Still, I do think Jones is capable of being a very good platoon partner this year.

  27. What’s funny is that Matt Diaz will be making a little less than twice as much as Wilfredo Ledezma.

    Somehow, I feel like neither man’s salary adequately expresses their value to their respective ballclubs.

  28. In years past, I would have be more than okay with giving Diaz more ABs against RH pitchers, but this year, I think Brandon Jones not only needs those ABs to develope but will prove to be a better option than Diaz against that group.

    Don’t get me wrong, Diaz has been one of my favorite guys lately (along with KJ) because of how the Braves have taken him off the scrap heap and turned him into a quality LF platoon guy. Frankly, from where he was two years ago, his performance to date has been remarkably impressive. Heck, adding him was probably one of the best things Schurholtz did in the past couple years as far as return for investment.

    But Brandon Jones is no Willie Harris. He took a big step forward last year, he’s still got room to grow, and I’m guessing the Braves are going to want him around in LF until he gets pushed by one of the Schafer/Hernandez/Heyward group.

    So last year, sure, play Diaz full time. But this year, I see no reason to push him out of the role in which he has excelled while simultaneously taking away ABs from one of our developing talents.

    And just a note about his defense: most modern metrics don’t say he was a “good” LF; they say he was among the best in the game! The plus/minus system had him as the best in MLB last year, and David Pinto’s probablistic model also puts him at the top.

    Now, I understand wanting to take these metrics with a grain of salt, and I don’t discount the possibility that they tend to skew Braves stats for some reason (eg, Vinny Castilla suddenly becoming a crappy 3B when he put on a Braves uniform despite excelling there both before and after; Braves LFs in general being rated very highly on these systems over the past few years). But I really do think he takes WAY too much grief for his defense, which I think it at worst league average. And he’s got an above-average arm for a LF to boot.

  29. Wishing and hoping. Matt, don’t swing at the bad stuff. You could 330 / 400 / 500 if you would just lay off a little of it. Please! For you and for us!

    Cliff, normally I agree with you, but when a guy’s hitting .330, I say leave well enough alone.

  30. The Hardball Times has sortable stats available. It takes a while to get through them, but they first use RZR (Revised Zone Rating). That rates what percent of “what they think you are supposed to get” that you actually get. On this, Diaz is average (for a left fielder) and Willie Harris is a little above average. However, that method has a separate statistic for OOZ (“out of zone plays made”). Diaz and Harris each had over 40 and any of the other left fielder playing twice as many innings had maybe 55 at the most.

    Either because of the shifts (which I think is why the Braves areall over the map on this stuff) or because of Diaz being good in one direction and mediocre in another he is much better than any system that rates by “zone” will show.

    Think about it. Being “above average” in left field isn’t saying much. You have Carl Crawford and Alfonso Soriano. Who else?

    Matt, just get 4 balls (every once and a while). Then you won’t have to walk, you can strut.

  31. Diaz has to be loving life now. From highly regarded out of Florida State to the dregs of the Royals and now millionaire for the Braves.

    He is a good find by the Braves scouting team. As far as Brandon Jones goes I would think that putting the best 9 on the field out weighs developing young Mr. Jones.

  32. Jones is left handed and very talented. I fully expect the best nine against a RHP to include him.

  33. I think Brandon Jones not only needs those ABs to develope but will prove to be a better option than Diaz against that group.

    Agree and agree.

  34. Do you want to turn a talented player into a platoon hitter? ‘Cause that’s what’s going to happen if he goes through a couple of seasons getting 30 AB a year against lefties.

  35. I would add that Diaz, even as an everyday player, should be strongly considered for hitting in the #2 hole.

    His reliability st the plate last year waqs second to none. You need a guy you KNOW can get on base in front of Chipper, Tex, Frenchy & McCann.

  36. For a frame of reference on Matt Diaz value:

    Wilson Betemit just signed for $1.165 million.
    Diaz signed for $1.225 million.

    Looks like Diaz is a bargain to me.

    That said, mraver took the words out of my mouth. Call me crazy, but I’m excited to see what Brandon Jones can do with a platoon role next year.

  37. And on the topic of his place in the batting order;

    I always felt that Diaz was the ideal 8th place hitter. He’s a guy who goes up hacking, and does it successfully. He’s not a guy you can unintentionally-intentionally pass in order to get to the pitcher. And he’s not a Thorman style hacker… He’s a SUCCESSFUL hacker.

  38. Also, it’s extremely hard to see how things have worked out for the best when you examine the batting records of Braves left fielders who aren’t Matt Diaz over the last two seasons.

    Mac,
    I agree. However, I was simply illustrating that Bobby has helped make him look immortal in alot of ways. Playing full-time (while I agree would have been best for the team the last couple of years) would have brought him back down to earth IMO. I was simply saying that we can’t expect that same production if he were to get the full-time job.

  39. @39
    Hoping Kotsay is the 8th hitter now. But your statement does have a lot of merit. Makes a lot of contact. Hmmmmm.

  40. ‘Cause that’s what’s going to happen if he goes through a couple of seasons getting 30 AB a year against lefties.

    Good point. Even though he could help the team in the 75% of the games started by RHP, lets stick him at Richmond. Or better yet, lets have Wren trade him. I’m sure that would turn out well.

  41. My theory on the zone ratings is that our left fielders have made a lot of routine plays in deep left-center because Andruw plays so shallow. A CF who plays deep would call off the left fielder on those balls, but Andruw lets them take the play. Just a theory — I guess we’ll find out more this season.

  42. Re: Jones not getting enough ABs vs. lefties-

    I don’t think breaking him in as a platoon player will hurt him long-term. If he shows himself to be extremely successful, trade Diaz in the off-season (you’ll at least get a decent prospect or two in return) and give him the full-time job next year. Or have Diaz platoon at 1B with ______ if Tex leaves. Or something. Either way, one year as a platoon guy won’t hurt Jones long-term IMO. We can worry about next year next year. :-)

  43. I’ll have to say that I was one of those critical of some of the Schuerholz deals over the last few years. As pointed out above, Matt Diaz for Ricardo Rodriguez was a pretty awesome deal. Let’s hope Wren can trust his scouts and make a similar splash. I’m afraid the Ridgway for Aybar/Richmond deal may look like the Diaz/ Rodriguez deal in favor of Tampa Bay in a few years.

  44. I forgot who said it last year (Stu?, Smitty?): “Diaz plays left field like he’s driving though the streets of Baghdad.”

    It was a hilarious twin discussion of awful cities to drive in (Atl, Houston, DC) and awful OF defense. Diaz ain’t that bad.

  45. I am afraid that Aybar/Fontaine will not take several years to look good for Tampa Bay.

    I am just hoping that Ridgway proves to be half as useful as Jorge Sosa was in 2005.

    Diaz certainly deserves to play full time, but I would also like to see Brandon Jones get some playing time.

  46. Are we so fearful of Chipper getting injured that we think the Braves can’t afford to trade any decent player that plays third base?

  47. Sam, I don’t think there’s some hidden or unsaid reason why people are against this trade. I think the problem is that Aybar is quite obviously—and by a large margin—the best player in the trade. Generally, fans are against giving up value for non-value.

  48. if any of you know Rick from the Rick and Bubba show, please be in prayer for their family. Rick was at a Christian Conference in Gatlinburg, when he received a phone call to find out that his youngest son (age 2) drowned in their backyard pool. Please be in prayer for these guys, they’ll need it…

  49. Ridgeway actually has put up some decent AAA numbers, but has been pretty awful in his short stint in the majors….AKA Devine

    Aybar was out of options and I’m guessing wouldnt have made the team. Fontaine is just another one of our clusters of middle infielders. This deal wont hurt us, unless, Chipper goes down and Infante is garbabe

  50. A third of an inning is so small a sample size as to be beyond irrelevent, unless it damaged his psyche irrevocably to give up 7 runs in his first cup of coffee.

    What worries me a bit more is that it took him till he was 25 to rise above High-A. Of course, sometimes relievers are late bloomers. Scott Proctor comes to mind. If he can command a couple pitches, he can be effective in a pen. If he can’t, well, we traded Aybar and Fontaine for nothing, and that sucks. But Aybar was hardly an asset to the club, and it’s hard to imagine he ever would have gotten himself right to the point where we’d be able to count on him to produce.

    Still, sucks to give up far more talent than you receive.

  51. I wouldn’t say it was “far” more talent. Both teams are rolling the dice here, though. There is no gaurantee that Aybar will be able to recover, although it’s likely that he will.

  52. Dix,

    Can’t argue with that. But the fact is we’re fretting that we’ve lost the trade already. We don’t know that. Sure, it’s likely that the Braves lost the trade, but why worry?

  53. In evaluating the Aybar move, I’ll consider the idea of the trade separately from the trade itself.

    I’m splitting them up mostly because I think trading Aybar right now is another short-sighted, bone-headed move. His value is absolutely as low as it can be, but he’s shown signs of a comeback in winter ball. Why not wait until he’s recovered some value in spring training? What’s the rush in trading him now? The Braves don’t know how quickly or completely Infante’s injury is going to heal, so trading away one of their backup IFs makes no sense. DOB (quickly becoming Peanut II) has chimed in that they can just throw Lillibridge into a backup role, but that’s not worth hurting his long term development to me. Lillibridge’s numbers indicate a solid major leaguer, possibly more, and he needs his work at AAA. Who are the backup utility guys if Infante’s not ready to start the season? Prado and…? Even if the Braves were planning on cutting Aybar before the regular season, waiting to see if any other teams suddenly develop a need at third base wouldn’t have hurt anything. Again, Frank Wren appears to have difficulty with the concept of leverage.

    I do, however, marginally like the return in that having Ridgway could prevent Fleece Me Frank from making panic trades in the future. Between Ring, Ohman, and (maybe) Gonzalez, the Braves will likely have one effective left reliever for this year. If not, Ridgway is an additional insurance policy. When Ohman signs elsewhere next offseason, Ridgway or Ring should be able to step into the LOOGY role for minimal salary, possibly even for a few years. It’s not a bad return considering that Franklin decided to trade Aybar when his value was at rock bottom.

    Again, though, Frank throws in another prospect for no discernible reason. It’s not tragic this time, as I see Fontaine’s ceiling as a backup IF at this point, but please, Frank, stop it.

    Then again, acquiring CJ Wilson in the Teixeira deal would have taken care of all this much more effectively, but that’s an argument for another day. Looking at Texas’s top prospects list makes me wince.

  54. @64, 65: I don’t really care why you said it, but being unnecessarily confrontational does nothing to advance the discussion. It’s a waste of space.

    And I fear that Braves fans could be crying an ocean if Frank doesn’t calm down a bit.

  55. I really don’t like the Aybar trade, but I’m over it now. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t get more for Aybar, but at the end of the day, we don’t know if we could have gotten more. But if that’s the case, then I would have just held on to him. Is Ridgway really going to help us that much?

    With that said, Ridgway does indeed help us in the bullpen, which helps shore up a need. You have Infante and Prado as your back-ups, and you just gotta hope that Chipper stays healthy this year. If he doesn’t, then we’re in a world of hurt. However, if Aybar does nothing in Tampa Bay, then we were going to be in a world of hurt anyway, and then at least we got Ridgway out of the deal.

    Let’s just wait and see what happens with Aybar and Ridgway before we start calling for Wren’s head.

  56. What discussion? It’s completely one-sided. It’s obvious the Rays got the better end of the deal, isn’t it? Assuming the Braves lost the trade is an extremely irritating idea to me.

    And I call your last sentence in your last post a waste of space. So we’re even.

  57. Sam,

    I have no idea what I’ve done to invite your rancor, but this will be my last post addressing you. If you wish to continue playing the guttersnipe to my posts, please feel free.

    I have better things to do than waste my time arguing with an enfant terrible.

  58. Perez,

    Excuse me? I’m the problem? Listen, I don’t know where you get off being all high and mighty either, but I just do not like the trashing of a man’s intelligence in general, especially if he does not have a history of being particularly stupid. Bill Bavasi and Jim Bowden have earned that title of “Stupidest GM”. To me, Wren has a long way to go to be an idiot of that magnitude.

    If we’re going to question his intelligence when he DID say that he was going to get a “veteran reliever”, and this is all that it took, then I think we’re lucky to see this because the Braves didn’t have to give up more than they did to satisfy the “veteran” fetish that the organization has.

    I’m not saying the trade was the best thing the Braves could have done, because it wasn’t. It could have been handled better, like a lot of other things. What I am saying is that it’s unjust to call Wren stupid because all we have is limited means to evaluate this particular trade. Surely, he knows what we do, because if it’s common sense to us, then he has to have thought of it. I doubt that Wren is the only one who works on these trades, either. Still, there are some things and factors we just don’t know. That’s why it’ll take me a long time to question his intelligence. I’ll say no more on this either. I’m done.

    And Tom Brady is a great quarterback.

  59. I’m gonna stay out of Sam vs. Perimeter Perez 2K8, but I do think it’s a little premature to call Wren a bad GM, especially after he’s made some pretty good moves this offseason. Of course, I’ve been trying to glaze over all the posts that are calling for Wren’s head and take a look at the stuff that I agree with.

  60. Well, even though I’ve not held back against Wren lately, truth be told, Wren was trying to fulfill the needs of the team. We needed a Center Fielder- Wren went out and got one. Similarly, the Ascansio trade killed two birds- backup IF and Lefty Reliever.
    Next, along the lines of the Aybar trade, I’ll go with the fact that the organization knows more about their players than us- but of course, this could go either way. Maybe Aybar could have requested a trade- Who knows? Wren, I’m guessing.
    The fact still remains that we cannot have an impressive player at every position, but most of the positions already have above average players- Kelly, Tex, Chipper, Diaz, McCann, Francoeur are all potential or proven all-stars, Yunel has some upside also. Enough said about Hudson and Smoltz. Moylan and Soriano are above average also- and then the slew of individuals competing for 4 and 5 SP. It seems as if Wren has done his job- time will tell how well he has done- sort of like submitting an assignment, waiting for the grade. And even though we’re not going to be sweeping the Red Sox anytime soon, I think that we are still very much an above-average team.

  61. When referring to the Willy Aybar trade, I will refer to what I like to call the “Mac talking about Kevin Millwood trade.” There is no reason to trade Aybar NOW. By all accounts he had a solid winter, so why sell low on him ?? I’m not against trading him if he’s not in the future plans, but I find it hard to believe that his value could be much lower than it is now. Why not bring him to ST and let him play 3B and a little 2B and see how he does ?? I know he’s out of options, but you don’t have to send him down before spring training last time I checked. I would have liked to have seen how he did in they maybe you can get more than a LOOGY in the Royce Ring mold.

  62. I don’t think Wren is a bad GM. I just think giving up someone who could very well have been an integral part of the bullpen for another roll of the dice (albeit a better one, but a gamble nonetheless) in CF was short-sighted. And I guess I had been hoping for Aybar to be able to come back with the Braves rather than for us to just show him the door. And throwing in Fontaine? I mean, just non-tender the guy if you don’t want him that much….

  63. I’m reading JS’s book now, as I mentioned earlier, and boy oh boy is it badly written. Seriously, his ghostwriter makes Furman Bisher look like William Faulkner. I think Schuerholz might have come off a little better if the book were written by a competent sportswriter.

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