Bruin Sports Analytics
Edwin Diaz: How "Narco" Helped Him Become One Of The Most Effective Closers In Baseball
By: Sofia Villalpando
Over the past few years, closers have been more frequently rotated within bullpens across all teams in the MLB. Edwin Diaz, a 28-year-old right-hand Mets reliever, struck baseball fans across the country during the 2022 MLB season with his consistent saves and high pitch velocities. However, he became an internet sensation when he began to walk out to the song “Narco” by Blasterjaxx & Timmy Trumpet, and even had Timmy Trumpet play their song at a home game, while also throwing the first pitch. You could hear the excitement of the crowd roar as his walk-out song played, and he dealt just as well as one might expect. Home games became some of the most electrifying in history at Citi Field with fans from across the league rooting for Diaz’s talent.
Diaz pitched a total of 62 innings this season, picking up 3 wins and 1 loss. He played a total of 61 games with a 1.31 ERA, having 118 strikeouts, and a total of 32 saves, meaning more than half of the games he pitched in were saves. With the upward trend of teams relying on relieving pitchers, the Mets hit the jackpot. His popularity grew immensely and the league and fans started to take note of his high performances. Diaz was named a 2022 All-Star starter. However, Diaz’s walkout song is only played at Citi Field, meaning that his thrilling walkout routine was during home games only.
In this article, I will be analyzing how the song “Narco” improved Diaz’s performance in comparison to away games.
Based on the pitches recorded when Diaz closed within an inning or less, data provided by Baseball Savant illustrated that the closer relied on two pitches throughout the entire season: 4-seam fastballs and sliders. He seemed to rely on these pitches consistently throughout the season, but a closer look shows us that sliders were his go-to pitch at home games. Sliders have been named “the hardest pitch to hit” by baseball experts, and Diaz’s consistency helped him successfully strike out 118 batters in one 162-game season.
Although he relied on sliders to secure his saves at home, Diaz consistently threw an average of 93.1 mph 4-seam fastballs and 92.8 mph sliders throughout the entire season. The best and most consistent slider this season, averaging 91 mph, saved the Mets in crucial series and games. For example, on September 16th, 2022 at Citi Field, the Pittsburgh Pirates lept from a 4-1 deficit with a 2-run homerun by Oneil Cruz in the 8th inning, starting a potential rally for the visiting Pirates. Trumpets began to ring around Citi Field, not in celebration of Cruz’s home run, but to signify that Edwin Diaz was coming out, enchanting the crowd and ultimately saving the Mets with five outs and keeping the final score 4-3.
His 118 strikeouts can be ratioed to 17.1 strikeouts per 9-inning games, the second-highest strikeout/full game rate in history. With this incredible record considering both home and road peripherals, we can see that Diaz’s consistency has allowed him to record his lowest ERA to date, a stunning 1.31 average of earned runs per 9 in a statistic where the lower, the better. 18 of his saves were completed at home, with a constant record in August while the Mets were approaching the postseason. At the same time, Diaz was blowing up on social media platforms and gaining a higher fanbase based on his traditional walkout song, fuelling his fire of a season.
Throughout the season, Diaz consistently pitched 1-2 innings with strikeouts, having an overall decreasing rate of hits against him as the season continued. This data does not include his All-Star appearance, post-season statistics, or games where he pitched more than two innings to accurately show his historic season in comparison to other relievers. His finishing ERA of 1.31 is significantly better than the league’s closers’ average of 3.97 ERA. This essentially means that Diaz allowed significantly fewer runs than the average closer. Despite the Mets’ appearances in the playoffs, this data solely focuses on the season during 2022; specifically, the games Diaz played from April 7th, 2022 to October 4th, 2022.
The Mets have been to a total of 3 post-seasons in the past 10 seasons from 2013-2022, but the 2022 Wild Card spot against the San Diego Padres was secured by their incredible record which Diaz immensely contributed to with his saves and strikeout rate of 50.2%. His harmonious season rallied Mets fans to show up and show out to Citi Field, which historically is assumed to help the performance of players.
During his incredible 2022 season, Edwin Diaz pitched remarkable numbers and finished strong. He secured a $102 million, five-year contract with the Mets, the largest contract offered to a closer in MLB history, so it will be exciting to see his growth over his next seasons in New York. Hopefully, his excellence will help the Mets secure a World Series title for the first time in history. It will also be thrilling to watch how his consistency carries over and whether or not he can perfect his slider any more than he already has.
Sources: baseballsavant.mlb.com, baseball-reference.com