Back in the spring Socrates Brito was raking, being called a potential breakout player, and Yasmany Tomas was sitting on the sidelines. Fans were calling for Brito to take Tomas spot and based on his overall performance in 2015, the demands were understandable.
Fast forward to today; with the first month of the season winding down, Brito is in Triple-A after a rough couple weeks in the bigs, and Tomas is finally starting to show his true potential.
At the plate, its clear that “El Tanque” has improved his plate discipline, and as a result his knowledge of the strike-zone and his pitch recognition has improved.
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It’s a small sample size, but in 19 games in, Tomas’ strikeout rate has decreased by almost six percent– from 25.8 to 19.3. His walk rate also increased by three percent– from 4.0 to 7.2. Tomas has still taken plenty of uppercut swings often looking silly trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but those occurrences are less frequent, and he has shown more of an ability to hit the ball where its pitched.
In 2015, Tomas walked a total of 17 times. He has already walked six times this season, and as a result his on-base (.349), batting average (.303), and his overall offensive value (3.7) have all increased.
His O-Swing-percentage (percentage of pitches swung at outside the strike-zone) has decreased from 42.5 to 38.0, and while his Contact percentage has slightly decreased, he is seeing more pitches– another indicator that his patience has improved.
He is hitting more line drives, more fly balls, and less ground balls, and this has all contributed to a huge increase in his ISO (isolated power) from .128 at the end of 2015, to .289 so far in 2016. Tomas was known for his power in Cuba, but he hit just nine home runs in 2015. He has already hit six home runs this season.
What stands out in his approach this season is his ability to hit to the opposite field. In 2015, His opposite field percentage has increased from 29.0% to 39.3%.to the point where he his hitting more balls to the opposite field than he is pulling. Teams can’t shade him in one direction allowing him to become a more dangerous hitter.
All of these improvements have led him to become one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup: his .942 OPS leads the team, his average is second, and his 16 runs scored is three ahead of David Peralta.
Tomas has also greatly improved his play in left-field. Playing left, especially on a deep ball hit near the bullpen fence is not easy, and people forget that he was a corner infielder in Cuba.
This graphic from MLB Network tells the story:
If he has a higher route efficiency than Alex Gordon, the best defensive left fielder in baseball, than Tomas is doing something right. His routes last year were horrible and its clear that he worked hard on it.
Tomas was a huge key for the Diamondbacks coming into 2016, and its great to see the improvement he has shown. Hopefully for the Diamondbacks’ sake he can keep up this high level of performance both at the plate and in the field.