Despite missing two months with injury, Aledmys Diaz provided depth and versatility for the 2021 Houston Astros.
Aledmys Diaz has proved to be a valuable and versatile member of the Houston Astros since his acquisition prior to the 2019 season, filling in at third base, shortstop, second base, first base and even left field on occasion.
Diaz’s versatility allows rest days for any infielder and also provides roster flexibility in the event of an injured list stay for one of the Astros’ infielders.
Prior to being injured in early June, Diaz saw plenty of opportunities in the Astros’ lineup and took advantage for the most part, batting .278 with nine doubles, three home runs and 18 RBI.
The broken hand took Diaz out of the lineup for the balance of June and most of July, but he returned on fire going 8-for-19 (.421) with two doubles and three home runs at the end of July.
His bat regressed to the mean in August (.265 in 102 at-bats) and took a nose dive in September/October when he hit .155 with one home run and seven RBI in 58 at bats, leading to an overall mediocre season at the plate as a OPS+ of 97 would indicate.
Diaz provided solid defense at all of the positions listed above, and that should not be overlooked, especially given the long term absence of Alex Bregman at third base during the season.
Bregman’s late season return and the general health of the Astros infield relegated Diaz to a pinch hitting role in the postseason exclusively. Diaz appeared in seven postseason games, going one for six with a walk.
At 31-years-old, Diaz has one more year under contract with the Astros at $4 million before hitting free agency in 2023.
Despite the majority of his career games coming at the position, Diaz is not a candidate to replace the gold glove winning, power hitting Correa, should he leave in free agency as almost everyone believes.
As an average fielder (at shortstop), around league average batter, Diaz would leave a huge hole in the Astros lineup both offensively and defensively and the Astros will undoubtedly explore other options.
Diaz’s future with the Astros is more along the lines of why he was originally acquired: utility man extraordinaire. He started twenty-eight games at third base, eleven in left field, ten at first base, nine at second, seven at shortstop and one in right field, along with four as DH.
Needless to say, without his own injury Diaz would have had more starts at third given Bregman’s extended absence.
As mentioned above, while his offense is average, Diaz is solid defensively, with an outs above average in the 94th percentile and eight outs above average at third base alone.