In what world is Alexis Diaz not one of the Top 10 best relievers in baseball? Apparently that sentiment is shared, not only by MLB Network's The Shredder, but also by baseball fans as well.
Before each Major League Baseball season begins, MLB Network allows the fans to vote for the Top 10 Players Right Now. The broadcast then switches from the fan vote to a computerized analysis, referred to as The Shredder, which takes a number of metrics and data into consideration before spitting out a ranking of the Top 10 players at each position.
To date, The Shredder has seen two members of the Cincinnati Reds favorably. TJ Friedl ranked ninth among all centerfielders, and Matt McLain is regarded as the sixth-best second baseman in baseball. But neither the fans nor The Shredder see Diaz as a Top 10 reliever. That's objectively wrong!
Reds' Alexis Diaz completely snubbed from MLB Network reliever rankings
According to both the fans and The Shredder, Devin Williams is the best reliever in baseball. It's difficult to argue that fact. Reds fans have seen Williams' "Air Bender" quite a bit over his career, and the right-hander is certainly among the best relief pitchers in the game.
But to not include Alexis Diaz is utterly foolish. Yes, his traditional metrics were not on par with some of the best in the game. Diaz posted a 3.07 ERA and 3.52 FIP in 2023. But Diaz's 1.7 fWAR ranked ninth among all qualified relievers and was higher than Ryan Helsley, Pete Fairbanks, and Evan Phillips - all of whom were ranked among the Top 10 relievers in the game according to The Shredder.
The fans ranked Alexis' older brother Edwin, who didn't even pitch last season, as the second-best reliever in baseball. Everyone knows how volatile the role of a reliever is, so that's just pure nonsense. Throw in the fact that Diaz had more strikeouts than Josh Hader, allowed fewer hits than Jhoan Duran, and posted a lower ERA than Emmanuel Clase, and you'll quickly see why this ranking doesn't make any sense.
Diaz's 37 saves were the fourth-most in the majors last season while also working in the backend of patchwork bullpen that was overworked during the second half of the 2023 season. Diaz made 71 appearances out of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen last season. Only Ian Gibaut had more among the Reds relief corps.
Reds fans know that Alexis Diaz is a Top 10 reliever in Major League Baseball, but he'll have to go out in 2024 and prove the doubters wrong. With the added depth following this winter's free agent signings, the hope is that Diaz will be better rested over the second-half of the season and help close out games with regularity in 2024.