The Tampa Bay Rays are off to a red-hot start this season, holding an MLB-best 16-3 record and a 4.5-game lead in the American League East over the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles.
Much of their success is thanks in large part to the contributions of slugger Yandy Diaz.
The slugging first baseman has played in 17 games this season and is already hitting .274 with six home runs and 13 RBI.
But there is a key difference between what Diaz has been able to do this year and what he accomplished in his first six seasons in the big leagues.
On Twitter, MLB Network analyst and former pitcher Dan Plesac broke down Diaz’s success and discussed some key differences in his game.
Yandy Díaz has evolved himself completely as a hitter!@AlexAvilaMLB | @Plesac19 | @RaysBaseball pic.twitter.com/rSeNSC9fjF
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) April 20, 2023
Plesac focused on some numbers that may sometimes be swept under the rug.
But according to Statcast, Diaz has truly evolved as a hitter.
His launch angle has improved quite a bit.
Over his first few season, he had a launch angle of 5.5 degrees.
It is now up to 14.8 degrees.
His fly-ball percentage is up from 18.6 percent to 35.8 percent.
His hard-hit rate has also improved.
Over his first few seasons, his hard-hit rate sat at 43.8 percent.
This season, it stands at 56.6 percent.
Finally, another big difference is his slugging percentage.
Over the first few season of his career, he slugged .420 compared to .597 this year.
Clearly, Diaz has completely evolved as a hitter and is reinventing himself on his way to becoming a star in the making.
He’s off to a hot start this year and is on track to put up some big numbers.NEXT: Yandy Diaz Continues His Hot Start To 2023