At a time when upgrading their offense has been the Astros’ main focus for a while, Aledmys Diaz has been a serious contributor of late.
Aledmys Diaz recorded another hit in the Houston Astros’ victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon. Getting knocks is something he has been doing a lot of lately, and for him, it was just another day at the office in the midst of an impressive hot streak that he has been on for weeks now.
He went 4 for 11 with a hit-by-pitch in the series against Boston, recording at least a hit in all 3 games. An injury to Yordan Alvarez opened up more playing time for Diaz in July, and he has more than earned it, even since Alvarez recovered. After a pinch-hit appearance against the Royals on the 4th of July, Diaz’s OPS dropped to a season-low .552. That was a month ago today at the time of writing. Since then, that number has skyrocketed by nearly 200 points. It sits at .733 today.
Over the past 30 calendar days, Diaz has been the best hitter on the Astros. No joke. Not Alex Bregman, who has started to heat up. Not Jose Altuve, who has been as steady a contributor as ever. Not even Alvarez, who was still tearing the cover off the ball even when dealing with the wrist soreness that kept him out of the lineup every other day for a bit after the all-star break. Diaz was the team’s best hitter for a month that saw Kyle Tucker, Jeremy Pena, and Jake Meyers experience brutal slumps that kept the offense from firing on all cylinders. The Astros are the 2nd-best team in the AL, on pace for over 100 wins, and their offense still hasn’t fully clicked for an extended period of time all year. This version of Diaz shows just how much more dangerous they’ll be whenever that happens.
In that aforementioned 30-day stretch, Diaz has hit .333/.393/.654 with 6 home runs, 8 doubles, and a wRC+ of 196, which leads the team over that timespan. That 196 wRC+ is also 7th in MLB and ahead of some superstars that have been hot of late as well in Paul Goldschmidt, Francisco Lindor, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The 6 players ahead of Diaz are Aaron Judge, Austin Riley, Matt Carpenter, Matt Chapman, Juan Soto, and Freddie Freeman. It’s hard to have a month-long stretch as good as Diaz has had. His 1.2 fWAR during the stretch ranks top-15 in the league as well.
Even when he isn’t offering much with the bat, Diaz holds unique value to the Astros by default. The role of the utilityman has been valued much more by MLB front offices in recent years, but having the ability to suit up at 5 different positions in a season still isn’t possessed by many players. Diaz has played all across the infield as well as in left field this season, and according to Statcast, he has been above-average defensively at all infield positions except shortstop.
Many teams would gladly accept a below-average bat if he could give their coaching staff added flexibility by being able to play all over the diamond. At the start of this season, and for a big part of his Astros career, that’s what Diaz was. However, his scorched-earth hot streak that he has been on is a lesson in terms of just how valuable players like him can be when they can hit well on top of their positional versatility. He probably won’t slug .650 the rest of the season, but Diaz has shown everyone that he can be one of the most valuable players on the team when things are going right at the plate.