The Lone Star State rivalry between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers is only going to get more intense after last year's World Series, but MLB Network's recent rankings are sure to ruffle some feathers up in Arlington as well.
MLB Network recently released its Top 10 catchers heading into the 2024 season. While Baltimore Orioles' star Adley Rutschman predictably landed at No. 1, Astros' backstop Yainer Diaz was one spot above Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh, and Rangers catcher Jonah Heim was nowhere to be found.
Rangers fans will not like these rankings, but Mariners fans are likely upset too. While the opposing AL West fanbases are sure to take to social media and cry rivers of tears, the Astros' faithful can rest easy knowing that their future behind the plate is in good hands with Diaz.
Yainer Diaz MLB Network ranking is sure to infuriate Astros' AL West rivals
Diaz was just getting his feet wet behind the plate in 2023, and it's likely the 25-year-old will continue to split time heading into Year 2 in the major leagues. Last season, Diaz hit .282/.308/.538 with 23 home runs and 60 RBI during his first full campaign in the bigs. Diaz finished fifth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting despite putting up better numbers than Rangers' rookie Josh Jung, who finished fourth.
With Martin Maldanado off to the South Side of Chicago, Diaz's role behind the dish will likely increase in 2024. Last season, Diaz donned the tools of ignorance for 60 games, while also splitting time at DH and first base. The Astros signed Victor Caratini this winter, and the former Milwaukee Brewers catcher is expected to share time with Diaz during the upcoming season.
In addition to Rutschman, Diaz and Raleigh, both William and Willson Contreras made the list, as did Will Smith, J.T. Realmuto, Sean Murphy, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno.
Though Rangers fans are sure to bemoan the absence of Heim, Diaz had more home runs, a higher OPS, and was equally impressive throwing out potential base stealers. Quite frankly, outside the overrated art of framing pitches, Diaz bested Heim in virtually every statistical category.
Astros fans are hopeful that this won't be the only time they're ranked higher than the Rangers in 2024.