Yandy Díaz

From BR Bullpen

Yandy Díaz Fernandez

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 185 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Infielder Yandy Díaz made his major league debut on Opening Day, starting at third base for the Cleveland Indians against the Texas Rangers on April 3, 2017. He went 1 for 4 with a double and a run scored. He got the start because of an injury to 2B Jason Kipnis that prompted the Indians to move 3B José Ramírez to 2B, opening a spot in the starting lineup for Yandy.

Yandy started his career in his native Cuba in 2008-09 when he played 5 games for Villa Clara at age 16. He saw significant action for the same team the next two years, playing 67 and 59 games respectively and hitting .292 and .254. At that point, like a lot of other talented Cuban players of his generation, he chose to defect. However, things did not go as smoothly for him as for others, who were playing professional baseball in North America within a year of leaving the island. It took him until September 20, 2013 to sign a first professional contract with the Indians.

He therefore missed three seasons of action at an age when ballplayers are undergoing important development. He returned to action in 2014 with the Carolina Mudcats of the Carolina League and did quite well, hitting .286 in 76 games. He then continued his progression over the next two seasons, with 136 games of hitting .309 mainly in AA in 2015. In 2016, he was with the AAA Columbus Clippers for the bulk of the year and hit .318 in 121 games, while playing for the World Team in the 2016 Futures Game. During his three seasons in the minors, he split his time between third base, second base and the outfield. He continued to do well in winter ball, with a .371 average in 40 games for the Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan League in 2016-17, paving the way for his making the Indians' roster at the start of 2017. He was sent down to the minors in early May when he was hitting .203, then returned in late August and did better the rest of the way, finishing the year at .263 in 49 games. In 2018, he played 39 games in the majors and batted .312, also hitting his first big league homer. He also played one game in the Division Series against the Houston Astros, going 1 for 3 with a double. During those two seasons, he spent the majority of his time in the minors hitting a scorching .350 in 85 games for Columbus in 2017, and .293 in 98 games in 2018.

On December 13, 2018, he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays alongside Cole Sulser in return for 1B Jake Bauers. He started the 2019 season as the Rays' starting first baseman and hit .308 with 3 doubles and 3 homers over his first 10 games. He was hitting .270 with 14 homers 38 RBIs in 78 games when his season was interrupted by an injury on July 22nd, putting him out of action for almost the entire rest of the season. He only came back in time to go 0-for-3 as the Rays' DH on September 29th, but on October 2nd, he was the hero of Tampa Bay's win over the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card Game, leading off the game with a homer off Sean Manaea, and then chasing him from the game with another homer in the 3rd. The Rays won the game, 5-1, to move on to the Division Series. However, he went 0 for 9 in that round.

In 2020, he played just 34 games in a season shortened to 60 games by the COVID-19 pandemic as a very strong Rays team rotated a number of players between first base, third base and DH, the three positions at which Yandy appeared. These included Ji-Man Choi, Mike Brosseau, Nathaniel Lowe and Joey Wendle in addition to him, but he was the most-used at third base. He hit well when he did get a chance to play, hitting .307 with an OBP of .428. He did not contribute much in the first three rounds of the postseason, going 3 for 24, but in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he went 4 for 12 with a triple and two walks. In 2021, he played a career-high (to that point) 134 games, but fell to .256 with 13 homers and 64 RBIs. Still, his OPS+ was good at 110, thanks to an OBP of .353 - low by his standards, but well above average. In the postseason, he went 3 for 15 as the rays were upset by the Boston Red Sox in the Division Series. In 2022, his OBP was back to his usual lofty standards, at .401 in 137 games, to go along with an average of .296, 33 doubles, 9 homers, 71 runs and 57 RBIs. His OPS+ shot up to 142 as he was a typical Rays players, contributing in all sorts of unspectacular ways to a team that was solid from top to bottom. But once, again the postseason ended in disappointment as the Rays stumbled against the Cleveland Guardians at the Wild Card Series stage, losing both games due to their inability to put runs on the scoreboard. He went 0 for 10 during the sweep.

Díaz had a great first half in 2023 as one of the key players that gave the Rays the best record in the American League over the first half of the season. He hit .323 in 78 games before the All-Star break, with 13 homers - one less than his best over a full season - also leading the league with an OBP of .408. He was deservedly voted the starter at first base in the 2023 All-Star Game. The game was played on July 11th in Seattle, WA and it coincided with the expected birth of his first child. As the birth was going to be induced, he and his wife agreed with doctors to delay the procedure until the day after the game, so that he could take part. He made the most of his presence, homering off Mitch Keller in his first at-bat in the 2nd inning to give the AL an early 1-0 lead (the AL eventually lost the game, 3-2). He then flew home to St. Petersburg, FL to join his wife Mayisleidis and be there for the birth of his son, who he had already said would be called Yandy Jr. On September 9th, he won a game with a 9th-inning walk-off homer against the Seattle Mariners. He had not started the game, but had come on as a pinch-hitter in the 7th and put the Rays ahead with a double, before giving the team a 7-5 win with his two-run blast in the 9th. He finished the season at .330 in 137 games, with 22 homers and 78 RBIs, establishing new personal bests in all three Triple Crown categories and winning the AL batting title.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • AL All-Star (2023)
  • AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2023/1B)
  • AL Batting Average Leader (2023)
  • 20-Home Runs Seasons: 1 (2023)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Adam Berry: "Yandy serenaded on b'day, makes sweet music with bat: After band plays for Díaz, All-Star collects four hits and drives in go-ahead run for Rays", mlb.com, August 9, 2023. [1]
  • Brian Murphy: "Yandy flexes his clutch muscle with walk-off HR", mlb.com, September 9, 2023. [2]
  • Mike Petriello: "Yandy on verge of stardom for surging Rays", mlb.com, April 9, 2019. [3]
  • Juan Toribio: "'My head is spinning': New dad-to-be Yandy Díaz's whirlwind All-Star experience: AL starting 1B homers in his first All-Star at-bat and is to become a father in a 24-hour span", mlb.com, July 12, 2023. [4]

Related Sites[edit]