And all of the baseball world is set ablaze. When Mets closer, and owner of a 5 year $102 million contract, Edwin Diaz, was carried off of the field and unable to walk after a post-game celebration in the World Baseball Classic, the Edwin Diaz Effect was created.
It is important to note, the injury occurred during the celebration, and not during the game itself, that saw Diaz’s Puerto Rico eliminate heavy favorites the Dominican Republic. Regardless, this is when hot emotions come out to play and we can see the true impact of the Edwin Diaz Effect.
The Timing of the Edwin Diaz Effect
The timing of this injury could not have been more precise. Just days ago, Diaz’s Mets’ teammate, Max Scherzer, had openly shared with the media his unwillingness to play in the World Baseball Classic because he did not feel he would benefit as a player from competing instead of going through spring training. Scherzer’s comments do not come from the clear blue sky. He was responding to U.S.A. manager Mark DeRosa’s comments to the media regarding how difficult it was for the USA to recruit the countries best pitchers as opposed to how easy it was to recruit the best position players the land-of-the-free has to offer.
Does the Edwin Diaz Effect and the corresponding injury prove Scherzer correct? Well, not exactly. The cornerstone of Scherzer’s position is the high stress on a cold arm too early in the year. Scherzer’s reasoning for his choices are his own decision and responsibility, and should be respected. Díaz hurt his leg in a non-game activity. In theory, Díaz could have had the same mishap at spring training, or even walking up a flight of stairs. At that point, the two scenarios are irrelevant.
The Edwin Diaz Effect on Team USA
Mark DeRosa’s comments on the other hand, address the elephant in the room that seem to be ignored up until that point: the United States looks to have a disadvantage in the World Baseball Classic when looking at the low level of pitching talent compared to the high-end starters that we know have chosen to sit the tournament out. While this is not uniquely an American phenomenon, it does seem like they are the most effected by this.
Take for example, Shohei Ohtani. He will be a free agent at the end of the 2023 season and is projected to earn one of (if not, the) largest contracts in baseball history. In theory, he has the biggest risk of any pitcher if he were to get injured. Yet, he chose to play and potentially become a World Baseball Class Hero.
What is it about the World Baseball Classic that attracted Ohtani, and not the likes of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, or Gerrit Cole? Why does it appear like other pitchers from other countries are more willing to take on the injury risk than Americans?
The Impact of the Edwin Diaz Effect
I can offer some speculation. One cannot help but wonder, has FIFA just ingrained international athletic competition to the rest of the world so much that other countries are more likely to value the World Baseball Classic just on principal alone? In contrast, America famously under appreciates the World Cup, likewise, that attitude also continuing towards the World Baseball Classic? Adjacent to that, America is the originator of baseball, and the central destination for all the top international talent to aspire to. Is it possible that American players as a whole, being aware of those facts, feel like they have nothing to prove when it comes to baseball, especially coming off the heels of their 2017 WBC victory?
If you were to ask an American player if they would rather win the World Baseball Classic or the World Series, I would bet they would quickly say the latter. If this hypothesis is true, it proves that American players view domestic success as superior to international success.
On the reverse side of this argument, would it not be great for America to take the upmost pride in the international game that we have created to prove to the world why Major League Baseball truly remains to be the best place in the world to play? One may not shake the feeling, it does feel like an empire that doesn’t commit to defending itself.
Does the Edwin Díaz Effect further influence American pitchers to skip their opportunity in the World Baseball Classic by providing an easy example to point to? Will the same effect also greaten for other countries? Will the injury not effect decision making at all? Only time will tell.
Let us know your thoughts on the potential Edwin Diaz Effect in the comments below!
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images