It’s an easy trap to fall into – paying too much attention to the numbers. The statistics can be misleading and they can cause unnecessary panic, especially early in the season.
That’s what happened to Jonathan Diaz.
He started looking at the numbers, and they weren’t looking good. The shortstop was hitting below .200 for most of April and May.
Diaz changed his focus and the numbers started going in the right direction as the Buffalo Bisons headed into the Triple-A All-Star break.
In a recent five-game stretch, he averaged .368, driving in four runs with four runs scored. His patience at the plate the past two weeks has helped raise his season batting average to .229.
“You know, one of the things is early in the season sometimes, I get a little caught up in looking at the stats and stuff like that,” Diaz said. “So it’s trying to disregard that and take it one at-bat at a time. You start putting some quality at-bats together and you try to gain some momentum and then ride the wave.
“I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable than I did at the beginning of the season. Just gotta stay with what I’m doing before the game and just take the same approach during the game and hopefully keep putting good swings on the baseball.”
Sometimes it’s not all about good swings. Sometimes it’s about the small ball. On Friday, he helped set up a dramatic ninth-inning rally. With two runners on and no outs, he placed a perfect bunt down the third base side to move runners into scoring position to go along with his RBI single in the seventh.
On Sunday, he drew a late walk as the Bisons tried to find any kind of offense in an 8-1 loss.
But his batting average doesn’t need to be stellar in order for Diaz to be effective for the Herd.
“He’s hitting .230-something like that and with the way he plays defense, that’s good enough for me,” manager Gary Allenson said. “That’s perfect because he saves us a lot of runs just with his defensive play.”
His bat is catching up with his defense. Diaz has spent the majority of his time at short with turns at second and a few (by roster necessity) in the outfield. His play up the middle has been solid, and at times spectacular, for the Herd the last two seasons.