Derek Dietrich came to the Cincinnati Reds over the winter via a minor league contract, after playing the first six years of his career with the Miami Marlins. This all transpired with very little fanfare, in part because Dietrich has never been an especially consequential player. Before now, that is. Now Dietrich is an Ultimate Dong-Smasher.
In none of his six full seasons in the majors has Dietrich hit more than 16 home runs, including in 2018, when he accrued 551 plate appearances, by far a career-high. So far this season he’s played in 52 games for the Reds, and Tuesday night he socked his 17th dinger of the season, against the Pirates, on just his 118th at-bat of the year. Dietrich also happened to sock dingers number 15 and 16 on the night, for his first career three-dinger game:
A good portion of Dietrich’s production this season has come at the expense of the Pittsburgh Pirates, against whom he’s hit 9-for-22 with seven dingers and 14 runs batted in. Yes, the Pirates are lousy (and way worse than their respectable 26-27 record) but don’t hold that against Dietrich, whose job as a professional batsman is to feast on vulnerable pitching. Dietrich is hitting a relatively unimpressive-seeming .254 on the year, but his sparkling 1.085 OPS would be good for fourth in the National League if he had enough at-bats to qualify. Which he doesn’t! Despite having hit the fourth-most dingers in baseball! The man is swinging a mighty bat these days.
Dietrich’s dong rate—17 in his first 118 at-bats of the season—puts him in extremely impressive company, especially for a guy who has never been much of a masher before this season. Per ESPN:
It only took Dietrich 118 at bats to get to 17 homers, the seventh fewest at-bats by a player with 17 homers since 1961, behind luminaries such as Barry Bonds (116), Albert Pujols (112) and Mark McGwire (93).
Here it is fun to note that the Miami Marlins cut Dietrich after last season, in order to save a few million bucks in salary from their slash-and-burn debt-servicing budget. Unlike the earlier moves to dump the best outfield in the NL, this one can’t come in for too much criticism, since Dietrich was never an especially productive player, and absolutely no one could’ve anticipated this kind of power explosion. But certainly that shouldn’t stop us from lording his success over Derek Jeter and the miserable Marlins until the end of time.