The Greatest Catcher of All-Time
Seneca, the great Roman Philosopher once wrote – Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.
But no one could have been prepared for this.
Elias Diaz was a no-name, journeyman catcher for the Colorado Rockies, batting .270 with just 9 HRs and 45 RBIs. He spent his days calling pitches for a staff that had a league worst 5.66 ERA, and his nights thinking about being on a team that was dead last in their division, 18.5 games out of first place.
And it was only July.
The original plan was to probably go fishing, visit some relatives, or simply rest at home with an ice pack on his right shoulder while watching some of the MLB All-Star Weekend festivities from his couch.
Fate had other plans.
Well, fate and the rule that stated that every All-Star Team must have at least one representative on their roster.
Last year’s All-Star representative, CJ Cron, was stuck in a season-long slump. Face of the Franchise, Kris Bryant, was struggling as well with only seven homers. By process of elimination, the spot eventually went to Diaz.
After all, doesn’t every All-Star Team need a third-string catcher?
With the National League trailing 2 to 1, late in the eighth-inning, coach Rob Thompson looked down the dugout and saw the lone Colorado Rockies player sitting quietly on the bench. I imagine the conversation went somewhat like this.
“Diaz, Edwin. Grab a bat. You’re on-deck!” The coach would shout.
“It’s Elias, Sir. Edwin Diaz is a reliever for the Mets.” Diaz would reply.
“Whatever, Rookie,” the coach would continue. “Just grab a bat!”
“Rookie? This is my ninth year in the league.” Diaz would whisper to himself as he headed to the on-deck circle.
What would come next could only be written in the words of Bernard Malamud. Facing the American League’s top closer, Felix Bautista, with one man on and a 2-2 count, Diaz would blast the next pitch over the left field fence for the go-ahead, and eventual game-winning two-run homer.
Preparation had met opportunity. Elias Diaz would be named the All-Star Game MVP. And with one mighty swing of the bat – Elias Diaz had become the greatest catcher in the history of Rockies baseball.
• To be honest, I had never heard of Elias Diaz before that homerun, despite Diaz being in his third season with the Rockies. But he’s no Yorvit Torrealba I thought to myself.
Ends up he’s better. Torrealba played 373 games over five seasons with the Rockies but hit only 23 HRs while batting .256. Diaz already has 38 HRs in a Rockies uniform, in only 318 games – plus an All-Star MVP.
• One could argue that Wilin Rosario was a better catcher than Diaz. The man they called “Baby Bull” hit 71 HRs and drove in 241 RBIs over his five seasons with the Rockies. But Rosario was such a defensive liability that he was quickly switched to first base, and eventually could only find work in Japan, Korea, and Mexico.
• It may be hard to believe that Tony Wolters is in the discussion for the greatest Rockies catcher of all-time, but Wolters showed some stats by playing five seasons with the Rockies, appearing in 391 games. But with 7 HRs, 123 RBIs, and just a .238 batting average, Diaz is better.
• Elias Diaz was also a bargain. The Rockies signed Diaz as a minor league free agent back in 2020, before eventually signing him to a three-year/$14.5 million contract. Not like former Rockies catcher Ben Petrick, who the Rockies drafted in 1995 with 38th overall pick, and in five seasons ended up with just 23 HRs and 82 RBIs.
• Diaz’s stats are better than Charles Johnson, Joe Girardi, and Henry Blanco. Not lifetime, but at least while wearing a Rockies uniform.
• Diaz is better than Nick Hundley, Miguel Olivo, and Kirt Manwaring.
• Dare I say it. Diaz is even better than the G.O.A.T. That’s right. Chris Iannetta.
Ianetta was a true pioneer. Before analytics told players that hitting for a low average was acceptable if your homerun output was high, Ianetta hit for low average without hitting the long ball. In eight seasons, Iannetta hit only 80 homeruns while hitting .232. No All-Star appearances, no awards, no nothing.
The Dodgers may have Mike Scioscia, Mike Piazza, and Roy Campanella. And the Yankees may have Jorge Posada, Thurman Munson, and Yogi Berra. But with all due respect to Drew Butera….
I’ll take Yorvit Torrealba, Chris Iannetta, and the new G.O.A.T. – Elias Diaz.
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