At the beginning of the season Colorado Rockies fans were left wondering what Yonathan Daza’s place would be in a very crowded outfield. After scraping together limited major league playing time, the 28-year old Venezuelan was ready to build on a solid 2021 campaign. Daza made the Opening Day roster after an excellent spring training and a little over a month into the 2022 season I was singing his praises for making the most of his playing time.
Now in the waning days of the season with less than a month of play left, Daza has continued to produce as one of the Rockies’ most valuable players. Going into the 2023 season there should be no question as to where he fits in. Yonathan Daza has passed his audition for an everyday role next year.
Yonathan Daza - Hitting stats by season
Yonathan Daza has continued to build and improve his hitting profile with every season he’s spent in the majors. After a brief cup of coffee in 2019 and missing 2020, Daza had a strong showing in 2021 with increased playing time. In 2022 he’s an even better hitter than before. With a career high OPS of .752, Daza has improved in basically every standard hitting category. He’s accumulated these stats in ten fewer games and six more plate appearances than last year.
Utilizing a high contact, low strikeout plate approach, Daza’s .312 batting average and .359 on-base percentage are the top marks among all regular Rockies batters this season. His 13.2% strikeout rate isn’t only one of the best on the team, but it also ranks in the top 7% of all major league batters. Daza is not and will never be a power hitter. Both the announcers and Daza himself expressed surprise at his home run against the MIlwaukee Brewers earlier this month. Where Daza excels is at making contact. His 18.4% whiff rate is second lowest on the team (behind José Iglesias) despite having one of the higher chase rates on the team at 33.6%. However, his rate of contact on chased pitches is a strong 69.1% (once again behind Iglesias) which limits his strikeouts at the trade-off of not drawing many walks.
Daza also succeeds at spreading the ball well when he puts it into play. With a spread of 33.7% pull/36.7% straight/29.5% opposite on batted balls in play and a BABIP of .351, Daza succeeds at hitting for average and getting on base despite a very high ground ball rate of 53.8%. He also has the sprint speed at 28.2 feet per second (ranking among the top 27% of baserunners in the league) to leg out infield hits and extend hits for extra bases.
Yonathan Daza: 2021 performance during date ranges
|April 1 - July 11||80||59||269||244||22||71||11||2||2||28||18||46||.295||.345||.381|
|August 1 - August 16||12||6||29||28||3||5||0||0||0||1||0||8||.179||.207||.179|
|September 9 - October 3||15||6||33||29||1||8||1||0||0||1||3||6||.276||.344||.310|
Another way in which Daza has impressed me this season is consistency. In 2021 he did his best work in the first few months of the season. From April 1st through July 11th, 2021 Daza was slashing .295/.345/.381 before getting sent to the IL with COVID until August rolled around. Daza struggled to regain form from August 1st through August 16th before a hand laceration put him on the IL yet again. He returned in September and began to figure things out at the plate yet again, but the season was almost over and it was difficult for him to prove he belonged.
In 2022 Daza has kept his batting average over .290—or even above .300—for the entirety of the season so far. A slight slump in July had his average dip to .291 on July 30th, but he had pulled back above .300 by August 5th. He’s also remained consistent after injury unlike in 2021. On August 11th Daza dislocated his shoulder on a diving catch in the outfield. He was placed on the IL until September 6th... where he promptly went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, and four RsBI. Since returning from the IL he’s hitting almost .500 in a seven game stretch. In six of those games he’s had more than one hit.
With the likely departure of José Iglesias this coming offseason, Yonathan Daza can continue to fill the niche of being the Rockies’ high contact, high OBP, low strikeout hitter. It’s a necessary niche that he fills well, and after a highly successful 2022 season Daza has more than proved he belongs as a big league starter. With a crowded outfield coming into the season this was an audition for Yonathan Daza’s everyday role moving forward with the organization. I would say he has passed with flying colors.
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One of the best stories of the late season for Rockies fans is the success that rookie first baseman Michael Toglia has seen following his major league debut. Kevin Henry over at Rox Pile discusses how good the rookie is feeling as he settles comfortably into a big league routine.
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On The Farm
Three home runs from Yard Goats batters Kyle Datres, Isaac Collins, and Brenton Doyle, as well as a strong day at the plate from Grant Lavigne, set the tone for Hartford in game one of the double header. Lavigne was 2-for-2 with a double, a triple, and two walks in the victory. Starting pitcher Will Ethridge had a nice five inning start in which he didn’t allow any runs and gave up just two hits. Ethridge struck out four batters and walked three. Reliever Finn Del Bonta-Smith pitched a scoreless, hitless sixth inning with a strikeout. Blake Goldsberry was the only Yard Goats pitcher to yield runs. He gave up two of them on two hits in the seventh inning.
The second game of the double header ended up being a bullpen affair for the Yard Goats after starting pitcher Tony Locey gave up three earned runs on four walks but just one hit over 1 1⁄3 innings. Jared Biddy, Garrett Schilling, Blair Calvo, and Gavin Hollowell all held the Rumble Ponies scoreless for the remainder of the game. Schilling pitched the longest, going for three complete innings with two strikeouts and being credited with the win. Hollowell earned his 16th save of the season. Offensively, Hunter Stovall and Aaron Schunk were 2-for-4 and 2-for-3 respectively and Hunter Goodman hit his first Double-A home run.
Solo home runs from Jimmy Herron and Tim Lopes proved to be the difference makers in this low scoring affair for game one of the double header. The Isotopes pitching staff worked a gem in the shutout of the Dodgers. Brandon Gold gave up one hit in the first inning, which would be his only inning of work. Ty Black pitched four strong frames in relief of Gold, giving up two hits and striking out four batters. Julián Fernández pitched a scoreless, hitless sixth inning with a strikeout and Joel Peguero picked up his first save of the season with a two strikeout seventh.
Jimmy Herron taking flight with a solo shot off the foul pole!— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) September 15, 2022
B3: Isotopes 1, Dodgers 0 pic.twitter.com/TfaHmkwORZ
The Isotopes offense had much more juice in the second game of the double header, scoring four runs on eight hits. Coco Montes hit 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored while Wynton Bernard went 2-for-3 with a solo home run in the third inning and a double. Sam Hilliard hit a two-run home run in the third to cap off the three-run inning. Jimmy Herron crossed home as the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Herron came in to pinch hit and singled to right field. Wynton Bernard drew a walk and advanced Herron to second, and then Coco Montes hit the game winning double. Ashton Goudeau started the game for the Isotopes and worked 3 2⁄3 innings while giving up one earned run on two hits and three walks. Nick Kennedy walked three batters and gave up a run in his inning of work. JD Hammer was the only pitcher to not five up a run, but did issue a walk. PJ Poulin is credited with a blown save after allowing the Dodgers to tie things up with a home run in the seventh inning.
WALK-OFF by Coco Montes to cap a doubleheader SWEEP! Our fifth of the season!— Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes) September 15, 2022
F: Isotopes 4, Dodgers 3 pic.twitter.com/6rYO3wf8Vx
★ ★ ★
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