The latest MLB suspension for a banned substance is to Derek Dietrich. Dietrich, a versatile infielder/outfielder who’s been in the Yankees’ minor-league organization this year (with the Double-A Somerset Patriots and more recently with the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders), has played in the majors in eight different seasons, but his most recent major-league stint was 25 games with the Texas Rangers in 2020. At the end of that stint, he was MLB’s all-time leader in hit by pitch rate (amongst players with at least 1,500 career plate appearances).
Now, any sort of major-league return for the 33-year-old Dietrich seems further away still,with MLB announcing Friday that he’s been given a 50-game suspension after testing positive for banned stimulant 1,4-dimethylpentylamine (DMPA). Here’s more on his suspension from Brendan Kuty of The Newark Star-Ledger:
Wow. MLB says it has suspended Derek Dietrich w/o pay for 50 games for testing positive for 1,4-dimethylpentylamine, or DMPA, which it says is a banned stimulant. Dietrich was at Triple-A w/ the Yankees.
— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) August 5, 2022
Kuty has more on that at NJ.com:
Derek Dietrich hoped the Yankees would be his path back to the majors.
Instead, he’s been suspended without pay, and his season could be over.
…The lefty slugger was hitting .244 with two homers and 20 RBI in 41 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He hasn’t played in the majors since 2020.
Dietrich’s full slash line with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was .244/.308/.402 in 143 plate appearances across 41 games. He was hitting .290/.421/.710 in 18 games at the Double-A level with Somerset. In his MLB career so far, he’s hit .245/.335/.428 in 2,513 plate appearances across 746 games for three teams (Miami from 2013-18, then Cincinnati in 2019, then Texas in 2020) but he batted just .197/.347/.459 in 25 games with the Rangers in 2020.
However, Dietrich (seen above with the Rochester Red Wings, the Washington Nationals‘ Triple-A affiliate, in August 2021) has done one thing spectacularly well in MLB. As Jeff Sullivan explored in a 2018 piece at FanGraphs, Dietrich was then the all-time leader in hit-by-pitch rate with a cutoff of 1,500 plate appearances, recording 93 hit-by-pitches in 2,132 plate appearances (4.36 percent; F.P. Santangelo was next at 4.00 percent). Brandon Guyer was higher in rate (85 HBP across 1,487 PA, 5.7 percent), but didn’t make that 1,500 PA cutoff.
Dietrich posted another 30 since then, for 123 in total across 2,513 MLB PA, 4.89 percent. The 123 HBP only make him 55th in MLB career HBP in total, but he has the highest rate of HBP to plate appearances (which has remained true since 2018; the currently-active players with more raw HBP have far more plate appearances, and Guyer never got any MLB PA after 2018). So if Dietrich never plays in MLB again (and this suspension may reduce those chances further), his rate record could stand for quite some time.