Lewin Díaz did not actually begin the 2021 regular season on the Marlins’ Major League roster. He was in AAA Jacksonville putting up massive numbers (278 AB, 52 R, 69 H, 20 HR, 51 RBI, 2 SB, .248 BA, .327 OBP, .845 OPS), which earned him a couple brief call-ups during the summer. He finally stuck around on a consistent basis in September after Jesús Aguilar’s knee injury.
During the closing weeks of the season, Lewin was given the chance to play 1B every day and he did have some success (122 AB, 16 R, 25 H, 8 HR, 13 RBI, .205 BA, .242 OBP, .693 OPS). He rated as a replacement level player according to FanGraphs (0.0 fWAR), but significantly better than that according to Baseball-Reference (0.7 rWAR). It comes down to how you feel about his defense at first base.
The positives from Lewin’s extended stay in AAA were that he was able to gain confidence at the plate and get consistent playing time. There was simply no room for him in Miami while both Aguilar and Garrett Cooper were healthy. On the other hand, being limited to just 40 MLB games—most of those when the team wasn’t even trying to win—makes it impossible to put full trust in him moving forward.
Díaz totaled 8 Defensive Runs Saved in his time with the Marlins. That pace would make him the league leader in that category if he played regularly for a full year. He smashed several of the team’s longest home runs in 2021 and paired that with a 25.8% K rate (only slightly worse than the MLB average).
As Alex Carver from Fish on The Farm mentioned to me, Lewin should be working better quality at-bats. He swung at the first pitch 34.9% of the time and frequently hurt himself with that aggressiveness. Also, his 20.7-degree average launch angle was among the highest in baseball, leading to a lot of pop-ups and a bad .205 batting average.
The future for Lewin Díaz is bright. It’s clear already that the Marlins robbed the Minnesota Twins by getting him in the Sergio Romo swap prior to the 2019 trade deadline. Assuming MLB goes to a universal designated hitter in 2022, he makes sense as the Marlins first baseman with Aguilar moving over to the DH spot.
Expectations will be higher for Lewin and for the Marlins as a team next season. He will for sure be in play for a NL Gold Glove and has the potential to produce around 20-30 homers in what would be his first full MLB season.
How many Gold Glove awards will Lewin Díaz win in his MLB career?
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