On Wednesday, Houston Astros (49-38) catcher and designated hitter Yainer Díaz hit two home runs in a 6-4 win against the Colorado Rockies to complete a series sweep.
Excellence at the plate has become a trend for Díaz lately, and he is making his case for why he should be Houston's starting catcher.
According to MLB, in 2023, 24-year-old Díaz has a batting average of .267 on 44 hits, 21 RBI, and 10 home runs with 165 at-bats. 36-year-old veteran Martín Maldonado, Houston's starting catcher since 2019, is batting .171 on 33 hits, 13 RBI, and five home runs with 193 at-bats. Objectively, Díaz has been a much better hitter than Maldonado this season.
Behind the plate, Díaz and Maldonado are statistically similar. In 555.1 innings as a catcher, Maldonado has a .990 fielding percentage and has allowed six passed balls (92 innings per passed ball). In 183 innings as a catcher, Díaz has a .989 fielding percentage and has allowed zero passed balls.
Yainer Diaz throws out another runner in the first inning.— Mark Berman (@MarkBerman_) May 9, 2023
Díaz has been playing multiple positions, appearing in 25 games at catcher and 20 at DH. Unfortunately, statistics indicate that this multi-position role is not working well.
According to Baseball Reference, when playing catcher, Díaz has a batting average of .329 and an on-base percentage of .354. When playing DH, however, Díaz has a batting average of .192 and an on-base percentage of .200.
Playing Díaz at DH while Maldonado catches negatively impacts Díaz and the Astros.
With Houston being in the tight AL West and 2.5 games behind first place, manager Dusty Baker needs to ensure he is maximizing his team's offensive and defensive production.
By starting Maldonado over Díaz at catcher, he is failing on that objective.