Derek Dietrich has always been a useful tool for the Miami Marlins. From his humble beginning as a second baseman in his rookie 2013 campaign through his jack-of-all-trades attitude that has allowed him to hold down left field in 2018.
Derek Dietrich was a 6′ native of Cleveland, Ohio when drafted in 2007 by the Houston Astros in the third round. A man of principle, Dietrich turned down what was sure to be a solid payday to attend college at Georgia Tech. In three seasons as their starting first baseman, he slashed .331/.432/.586, with 41 round trippers and 181 RBI.
Dietrich’s hard work and dedication paid off in the 2010 draft. The Tampa Bay Rays picked him in the second round, 79th off the board. Dietrich slashed .279/.340/.419 in the NYPL for the Hudson Valley Renegades in his first pro look after his selection. After a promotion to the mid-A level Bowling Green Hot Rods in 2011, he slashed .277/.346/.502, with 22 homers and 81 RBI. He split his 2012 campaign between the FSL Charlotte Stone Crabs and the SL Montgomery Biscuits. Collectively, he slashed .279/.338/.457 between the two levels.
After the 2012 season, the Miami Marlins traded Yunel Escobar to the Rays for Dietrich’s services. Despite having played primarily shortstop in the Rays’ system, the Marlins put him back at his natural second base position.
Dietrich slashed .271/.381/.509 for the Jacksonville Suns in his first look in Miami’s system. He debuted with the Miami Marlins on May 8th, 2013 at second base, and ended up playing in 57 contests. Dietrich put up a .214/.275/.405 slashline, showing nearly no patience at the plate with just 11 walks in 233 plate appearances. He did show a propensity for getting to first base by HBP, with seven in his limited appearance. He also collected nine home runs and 23 RBI.
In 2014, Dietrich improved his batting average slightly, to .228/.326/.386. He got to first base 13 times on walks and 10 on HBP’s, with five homers and 17 RBI.
Dietrich’s 2015 would see him in his last significant minor league action, for 56 games with the New Orleans Baby Cakes. In 90 games for the Miami Marlins, he slashed .256/.346/.456 with 10 homers, 24 RBI, 23 walks, and 13 HBPs. Still a skilled second baseman, Dietrich split the year between left field and the hot corner for the Marlins.
2016 would see Dietrich lead the NL with 24 HBPs, and improve his batting average to a career best. He slashed .279/.374/.425 with seven home runs and 42 RBI. Back mostly at second base, he also played a lot of first and third, appearing for a bit in left field. 2016 would also give us this unforgettable moment:
Last season, Dietrich appeared in a career-high 135 games, and slashed .249/.334/.424 with 13 homers and 53 RBI. He got to first with 18 HBP, drawing 36 walks. This year, he’s on pace to eclipse all of his career-highs.
Dietrich was interviewed by fitness guru Billy Blanks last season, and discussed his abs:
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In 73 games this year, he’s hit 11 home runs and 29 RBI. He’s now slashing .302/.354/.496.
Dietrich’s OPS has shown a mostly upward trajectory through his first six major league seasons. Starting in 2013, he earned marks of 85, 99, 122, 120, and 104. This season, he’s at a nearly all-star worthy 137, and his .851 OPS is 49 points better than his previous high set in 2015.
Dietrich’s emergence has never been more evident than his current stretch. Since May 11th, he’s slashing .379/.435/.661, with 11 doubles, eight homers, and 19 RBI. This stretch includes yesterday’s four-hit performance (see below). For another Miami Marlin who is exceeding expectations, check this out.
Despite some initial bumps in the road, Dietrich has only one error in left field, and is currently at a .988 fielding percentage.
Dietrich can, in fact, play six positions. All infield and both corner outfield spots. Despite this, the better part of his game has always been at the plate. He’s slightly below average at every position defensively, but least-so in his 1081 innings at third base.
There’s no reason that Dietrich can’t keep improving. He’s just now coming into his baseball-prime, at the age of 28, and has avoided arbitration in each of the last two seasons by signing contracts of $1.7m and $2.9m, respectively.
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