You Should Believe In David Peralta

So I’m sitting here, passing a Wednesday afternoon by scrolling through players Steamer thinks are going to be worse. Most of the time, I get it. Yoenis Cespedes, sure — last year, he had almost everything go right. With Francisco Lindor, I understand bat-related skepticism. I see why a projection system thinks Joe Panik will take a step back, and the same goes for Justin Turner and Nelson Cruz. Honestly, I get it with David Peralta, too. I see why Steamer thinks what it thinks. All the reasons are right there on the player page. I just think in Peralta’s case in particular, there are positive traits that should lift the expectations. Allow me to make the argument.

We haven’t written that often about Peralta, although it was just a few months ago Dave suggested he might be baseball’s most underrated player. That would be fitting, since one of baseball’s other most underrated players is outfield-mate A.J. Pollock. There’s no defining or studying underratedness, so I don’t know quite where Peralta should rank, but he’s inarguably on the list. Dave pointed to some of the numbers he’d put up. I want to point to some other numbers, some numbers I think are especially encouraging.

Let’s get this out of the way: Last year, in well shy of 600 trips to the plate, Peralta was good for 3.7 WAR. Or, if you prefer…actually, Baseball-Reference has him at 3.7, too. That’s convenient. And it was mostly about the bat, which comes with lesser uncertainty. Peralta wasn’t out there quietly racking up the defensive runs. He seems to be a perfectly fine defensive corner outfielder. Adds some value on the bases with his legs. Let’s talk about his hitting.

Peralta can be counted on to walk a roughly average amount. Similarly, he can be counted on to strike out a roughly average amount. He’s neither especially patient nor especially aggressive, and he’s about average at making contact. What that leaves is the quality of contact, and this, fortunately enough, is where Peralta shines. He’s a wonderful example of a guy who just goes up and makes sure to hit the ball hard someplace.

To start with a little Statcast, head over to Baseball Savant. There you’ll see that Peralta was one of just 27 players to hit a baseball at least 115 miles per hour. This isn’t something Peralta did all the time or anything, but it does help set a power ceiling. Peralta topped out at 115. So did Jose Bautista. Bryce Harper topped out at 116.

Something I really like about Peralta, though, is that he’s developed the ability to spray the ball. As a rookie, by our numbers, he pulled all eight of his homers. As a sophomore, he hit five homers up the middle, and two the other way. I’m a sucker for hitters with an all-fields approach, and Peralta came out of 2015 ranking very well.

On Baseball Savant, for simplicity, I split the field in half. There were 163 lefties who hit at least 50 batted balls to the pull half, as measured by Statcast. Peralta finished in third place in rate of batted balls hit at least 100 miles per hour. Now, there were 130 lefties who hit at least 50 batted balls to the opposite half. Peralta ranked 11th in the same rate. This is as much as I’m going to do with Statcast today, but the exit velocities support the other numbers.

By now you should be familiar with the much simpler hard-hit rate. So for this part I’m going to transition to FanGraphs statistics, and you’ll recall that, here, we split the field into even thirds. Last year, Peralta was one of 29 players to have a hard-hit rate of at least 30% to all fields, given at least 50 batted balls. The group averaged a 126 wRC+, with a .319 BABIP. For whatever it’s worth, I set the cutoff below Peralta’s actual limits — his lowest hard-hit rate to any field was 33%.

We’re almost done with the numbers, I promise. There’s just one more thing. As a hitter, your first goal is to hit the ball hard, but a secondary goal is to make sure to not waste that hard hit with a grounder. A well-hit grounder can get through the infield, sure, but it might also just get to an infielder faster, and there just isn’t a lot of damage to be done. You want your best contact to come on liners and flies.

So! Last year, 212 players hit at least 150 liners and flies. They averaged a 39% hard-hit rate — that is, 39% of the liners and flies were hit hard, according to whoever judged these things. Peralta finished at 50%, ranking 10th in the majors. Other players who finished at or right around 50%: Joey Votto, Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Mike Trout, and Freddie Freeman. Not all hard-hit baseballs are created the same, of course. A hard hit by Giancarlo Stanton is probably hit harder than a hard hit by David Peralta. But Peralta inarguably made consistent, quality contact, and a lot of that hard contact was in the air, and he sprayed those baseballs all over the place. It was Batting 101: hit the ball hard, where the defensive players aren’t.

I know this post has featured a lot of statistics, and I know those can put readers off, even on a site like this. So let me try to put it all into more readable words: Last season, David Peralta made improvements with regard to contact quality and distribution. He hit the ball hard, and he hit the ball everywhere, and what I like about that is it makes Peralta difficult to exploit. Every hitter has weaknesses, but Peralta’s are more difficult to find, because he doesn’t whiff too often, and he can go with a pitch just as well as he can yank it. He’s blessed with quick hands and plate coverage, and to me, that all makes him an excellent bet to remain a quietly excellent outfielder.

He’s probably still not as good as A.J. Pollock, overall, but Peralta strikes me as a hell of a player, and someone the Diamondbacks will be leaning on as they try to win the race in the NL West. They’re going to get attention because of Zack Greinke, and they’re going to get attention because of Paul Goldschmidt. Much of what’s left over is going to go to Pollock, and then there won’t be a lot remaining. I imagine many fans will continue to underrate David Peralta, but his own team won’t. And neither will the others.



Print This Post



Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
TwinPeaks
Member
TwinPeaks
3 months 26 days ago

I already believed, but thanks for giving me some hard data to show me why my faith was well-placed.

Mark Davidson
Member
Member
3 months 26 days ago

I count on fangraphs to provide me with those numbers. Thanks!

Poor Mans Rick Reed
Member
Member
Poor Mans Rick Reed
3 months 26 days ago

Gifs or it didn’t happen.

Looking forward to his progression this year.

thecodygriffin
Member
thecodygriffin
3 months 26 days ago

I really like David Peralta, but I have one huge concern with him – his split against lefties. In an admittedly limited sample over the past two years, he has been beyond awful against them. Like significantly worse than Shin-Soo Choo against lefties awful. If he could even become slightly below average against them, he would go from under appreciated to legitimate star.

Anon
Member
Anon
3 months 25 days ago

I’m concerned about the splits as well but it’s worth noting that the Dbacks have almost no left-handed bats and 2 VERY good RH bats. THe only other lefties likely to start the season on the roster are Jake Lamb and Socrates Brito – Lamb is promising but scares nobody and Brito is not a regular. Heck, they have fewer lefties than last year since they traded Inciarte and let Saltalamacchia walk. The DBacks will see a never-ending stream of righties all year. Doesn’t help him with late-inning matchups of course but I would bet PEralta will do just fine.

bartelsjason
Member
bartelsjason
3 months 25 days ago

Yeah, don’t like that he’s in the same division as the Dogers. Their rotation is nearly all lefties. Hello basically be sitting a whole series our while playing them multiple times.

Moranall
Member
Moranall
3 months 25 days ago

He had a whopping 90 PA against lefties last season and 81 the year before. Incredibly small samples. The Dbacks just didn’t play him much against LHP but I expect that to change this year.

Considering how new he is to hitting, I’m sure it’s a bit of a learning curve to him. Considering how much improvement he’s made in his general hitting in just two years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him improve against LHP with more experience.

shoewizard
Member
Member
shoewizard
3 months 24 days ago

He improved a lot vs lefties after May when he started playing every days as opposed to being platooned

Ryan Brock
Member
Member
3 months 26 days ago

Isn’t his steamer proj already pretty dang good?

BenSharp
Member
BenSharp
3 months 25 days ago

They project him to be below average and worse then he has been over the last few years. So no, not good.

Ryan Brock
Member
Member
3 months 25 days ago

A .338 wOBA is not below average. It’s nearly in the top 50 amongst steamer projections. So… yeah, pretty good.

I hear ya though, Jeff!

BenSharp
Member
BenSharp
3 months 25 days ago

I meant his WAR total of 1.8, below the required 2 WAR for a position player. I get your point though.

MarkM1980
Member
MarkM1980
3 months 26 days ago

I’m a stats-inclined reader who isn’t always able to understand the numbers without a narrative and context–but this was not a post that posed any difficulty. The statistics were used sensibly, with obvious context–which I appreciate!

trueAZfan
Member
trueAZfan
3 months 25 days ago

I love the Peralta story, flamed out pitcher who taught himself to hit. But that’s where my love for Peralta stops, I would much rather have inciarte suit up with the dbacks this year and let Peralta go shine amongst the rest of the braves.

Lenard
Member
Member
Lenard
3 months 25 days ago

Care to explain more? I get that Inciarte has the advantage in age and defense, but Peralta pretty much outperformed in every other aspect of the game, including a better base running score. Given that the team (rightfully or wrongfully) seems to be going for the division this year, keeping Peralta and trading Ender seems to be the smart move, at least with regards to the next few years, especially considering Pollock in CF.

Granted, the above analysis is totally stripping out the return on the Inciarte trade, but I’m just trying to compare and contrast the two players mentioned.

Lenard
Member
Member
Lenard
3 months 25 days ago

Based on this article, it seems like Peralta might actually have one of the highest statistical floors in the game, even with a lack of extensive MLB track record. Hit the ball hard and to all fields and you have to be really unlucky to have a below average year offensively.

swingofthings
Member
swingofthings
3 months 25 days ago

At a cursory glance I was not at all a believer in Peralta, but this look has changed that – at least somewhat. Hard hit to all fields or not, it’s crazy to believe someone can sustain a >.368 BABIP or particularly close to it after one year like this. Steamer’s regressions in average and ISO both seem reasonable on their own, but the total package seems pretty harsh. Something like the Fans’ projection with an extra .2-.3 ISO seems like a fair bet.

Sam Choung
Member
Sam Choung
3 months 25 days ago

Great writeup! The more data there is, the more credible the analysis becomes! I actually wished fangraphs had a “Gory Mathmatical Detail” section like BP. Those pieces stand the test of time.

CCSAGE
Member
CCSAGE
3 months 25 days ago

I thought some readers would take exception with ‘probably not as good as Pollock’. I agree with the statement on it’s face, and I also agree with the implication that Peralta might just outperform Pollock…or at least provide more profit for our fake teams since you don’t have to spend $30+ or use a 2nd round pick to get him.

shoewizard
Member
Member
shoewizard
3 months 24 days ago

Zips likes him considerably better than steamer. 360 vs 335 wOBA. Sometimes analysis on this site or in the comments thread entirely too dependendent on iust the one projection system.

wpDiscuz