Bounced back, big time, from his 2008 annus horribilis and had, statistically, his finest season, due to a big walk spike that pushed his on-base percentage to .390, and a career high 425 plate appearances. He was much less reliant on batting average than earlier in his career, with a .288 secondary average that beat his previous high by 63 points. He also wound up playing a significant amount in right field, and even two games in center, without embarrassing himself. All in all, a successful year.
However, that hides the real story of the season, which is that Diaz is increasingly reliant upon his ability to pound lefthanded pitching. Against lefthanders, he was Rogers Hornsby, hitting .412/.464/.640. Against righties, he was more Roger Cedeno, hitting .255/ .349/.400. And, of course, he wound up getting the majority of his at-bats against righthanders, so sixty percent of the time he was Cedeno. If Diaz can get back to hitting .300, even an empty .300, against righthanders, he’s a usuable everyday player. If he can’t, he really needs to be platooned, but the Braves aren’t in a position to do that. Diaz, limited as he is, is probably a better hitter against righthanders than Melky, and they aren’t going to give left field to Gregor Blanco.
Tied for the team stolen base lead with twelve, and led the team with four triples. He’s probably the fastest position player on the team, though Jurrjens is probably faster… I’ve a feeling that this is Diaz’s last year in a Braves uniform. He’ll be 32, which is about the age when a player who isn’t a star is hard to hang on to. It will be his fifth season as a Brave; he’s longer-tenured than any player in a Braves uniform other than Chipper, Hudson, and McCann. (The only other member of the 2006 team still with the club? Prado.) Most-similar batter through age 31 is Mike Easler, which is just perfect.