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Elias Díaz dropped off in 2022, but still hit 9 HRs, including one walk-off

After signing a three-year deal, Díaz regressed on offense and defense

Welcome to the 2022 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2022. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the lowest rWAR and end up with the player with the highest.

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No. 16, Elias Díaz: 0.4 rWAR

After signing a three-year deal for $14.5 million after the 2021 season — one where he hit a career-high 18 homers and led the National League by throwing out 42% of would-be base stealers — Elias Díaz came back to Earth in 2022.

Believing they had found their first two-way player since Chris Iannetta, the Rockies signed Díaz through 2025 in order to buy the 2020 35th overall draft pick, No. 3 PuRP Drew Romo, time to develop. While Díaz still played pretty decently, especially in comparison to the offenseless catchers the Rockies had in 2019 (even though Ianetta had six homers) and 2020 (Diaz hit two while Tony Wolters and Drew Butera combined for zero).

In 2022, Díaz hit .228/.281/.368 with nine homers, 51 RBI, 18 doubles, and scored 29 runs, which was a steep drop off from when he hit .246/.310/.464 with 18 homers, 44 RBI, 18 doubles and scored 52 runs and posted a career-high 2.2 rWAR in 2021. Last season, Díaz hit his stride in June and rode a hot streak for the remainder of the season, including a walk-off homer and single against the Cardinals over the Fourth of July weekend.

Díaz’s 2022 season saw slumps in May and August where he hit under .200 and combined for one homer in the two months. Some of his struggles came against right-handed pitching. Even though he hit five homers and 11 doubles off righties, he slashed .197/.261/.326 in 218 at-bats compared to .278/.314/.436 against lefties.

He did, however, maintain some of his walk-off magic last season, helping the Rockies to two of their six walk-off wins. The first came on July 27 when he hit an RBI single to lift the Rockies over the White Sox in the bottom of the ninth. His second was even better when he capped off a seven-RBI night on Sept. 9 with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 13-10 win over Arizona.

After his best month of the season, July when he hit .298/.385.474, Díaz landed on the 10-day IL in August with a sprained left wrist. He was pulled from a game on Aug. 10 after he seemed to be in pain after swinging on a strikeout, but at the time, manager Bud Black said he’d been dealing with his wrist injury for “some time.” While unclear how long that is, that could account for some of his struggles in 2022.

Defensively, Díaz led all MLB catchers in assists at 52. Throughout the season, he showed off some pretty impressive pickoffs, like this one against Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins early in the season.

During the same July 27 walk-off win against the White Sox, Díaz also picked off Luery García at third base.

While Díaz had plenty to post to his highlight reel, he also lead MLB catchers with 11 errors. He was tied for 10th in MLB in throwing out 15 would-be base stealers, but he also allowed 48 stolen bases, shrinking his caught stealing percentage from 42% in 20 to 23.8% in 2022. Díaz’s 1.94 seconds pop time is 23rd best in the league, but his catcher framing runs was -7, which was 55th worst in the league.

Even though Díaz didn’t have as much offense in 2022, he still brought consistency behind the plate and more homers than Rockies catchers combined to hit in 2019 (Iannetta six, Wolters two, and Dom Nuñez one).

Díaz, who turns 32 on Nov. 17, faced some competition from Brian Serven in 2022, but for now, the starting catching job is his headed into 2023.