Welcome to the 2023 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at every player to log playing time for the Rockies in 2023. 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. 6, Elias Díaz: 1.4 rWAR
Elias Díaz played in the most games of his career in 2023, playing in 141 games for the Colorado Rockies in his fourth season with the club. The 33-year-old catcher started the season off hot, slashing .342/.398/.500 in the month of April. May had similar success at the at plate and the month with the most power, hitting a season high four homers in the month. After the fast start, Díaz did slow down towards the end of the first half of the season, but still earned the Rockies’ lone nod for the All-Star Game — the first Rockies catcher to represent the team in the Midsummer Classic.
Díaz’s performance in Seattle was one of the most enjoyable moments for Rockies fans during the franchise’s first 100-loss season. In the eighth inning with the tying run on base, Díaz pinched hit for Jorge Soler and smashed a long home run to left field to give the National League a late lead.
That proved to be enough for the win over the American League All-Stars — the NL’s first win over the AL since 2012. The late-game heroics earned Díaz the MVP Award for the game, making him the first Colorado Rockie to ever win the award.
Watch Díaz’s post game interview below:
The second half of the season was less productive at the plate for Díaz, but August still had solid numbers after a slump in July. Overall, this season saw the most hits, doubles, RBI, and highest average for a full season of his career.
Defensively, Díaz proved to be the rock behind the dish for a pitching staff that dealt with many injuries and changes throughout the season. Of his 141 games played this season, 126 of those were behind the plate, good for over three quarters of the season. The veteran catcher threw out 22 of 73 potential base stealers, or 23%. His 22 caught runners was fourth best in the National League, giving Díaz back to back season in the top four for the National League.
Looking to next season, 2024 is the last season under contract with the Rockies for his age-33 season. At $6 million next season, Díaz gives a solid option behind the plate for a pitching staff that has many inexperienced arms getting innings and should be the starting catcher for most games in 2024. This season will be a big contract year for Elias Díaz before he hits free agency if the Rockies do not resign beforehand. Likewise, an expiring contract with a veteran catcher could be a potential trade piece at the deadline if the Rockies are out of playoff contention once more.