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2012-player-preview-matt-diaz | February | 2012 Articles

2012 player preview: Matt Diaz

Written by Joe Lucia on .

diazWhen the Braves acquired Matt Diaz from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the end of August, I was vehemently opposed to the move for several reasons.

1) Fredi Gonzalez would feel inclined to start Diaz in right field over Jason Heyward when lefties were on the mound.
2) Diaz's effectiveness against lefties in 2011 had dropped off to the point where he had no purpose on the team aside from a pinch hitting role.
3) He was under contract for 2012 for $2.125 million, and his presence on the roster next season would really hamstring the team.

Sure enough, all of those were true. In the 16 games Diaz got into as a Brave, he got 37 plate appearances, which clearly means there were some starts in there (probably in the neighborhood of eight or ten). His struggles with the bat continued in Atlanta, as his overall line with the Braves was .286/.297/.314. In those 37 plate appearances, he walked just one time and had one extra base hit (a double). Against lefties, his line with the Braves was .296/.310/.333 over 29 plate appearances. For comparison's sake, Jason Heyward's 2011 line against lefties was .192/.270/.308...so while Heyward's batting average was lower thanks to a .228 BABIP (Diaz's was .333), he showed the ability to take a walk and get extra base hits, something that Diaz didn't show. 

In 2012, I don't see a potential spot for Diaz on the Braves roster, and the team might be forced to eat some salary in order to get him off the team. He's the fourth outfielder right now that can only hit lefties, so that's not really a good fourth outfielder, huh? He's not great defensively (+2 DRS over his career), he's not fast (33 career stolen bases)...his only role is to hit lefties, and he couldn't do that at all last season. If Diaz has a spring that resembles his 2011 season when it comes to hitting lefties, I don't see any way that the Braves can keep him on the Opening Day roster. For as much of an anti-Constanza guy as I am, I'd rather have him on the Opening Day roster than Diaz if you base things solely on their 2011 seasons.

Photo courtesy of Daylife.com 

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