Wily Peralta: Sliding his Way to Improvement

Need a warm body at the end of your draft to fill out a bench spot? Struggling to see straight after putting down too many Yuenglings? Mock Draft Central tells us there’s no shortage of commoners to be had: Jason Vargas and his lifetime 51-58 record will be there for the taking; Josh Johnson and his patched-up elbow can be had on the cheap; and Trevor Cahill, owner of a 15.6 percent career strikeout rate, stands ready to be selected should you have something better to do than sit patiently and wisely craft the back end of your roster.

There’s no crime in being haphazard, but us FanGraphs folk prefer the whiff of upside to the constraints of guaranteed mediocrity. So it’s in that spirit that I wonder if Wily Peralta, currently being priced at a 324 ADP, is deserving of more love.

It’s not difficult to see why Peralta isn’t in heavy demand. A 16.1 percent strikeout rate isn’t nearly good enough for fantasy owners to look past a 4.37 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 11-15 record. But Peralta, a former two-time Baseball America top 100 prospect who turns 25 in May, turned in two somewhat different seasons last year, as the chart below shows:

Nothing earth-shattering, perhaps, but improvement nonetheless, especially for a guy getting through his first full major league season. The biggest change, as others have noticed, was Peralta’s increased use of his slider, particularly against left-handed hitters, both to get ahead in the count and to finish them off. The changed approach reversed lefties’ success against Peralta; what was a .341 average during the first 15 starts melted into a .200 clip the rest of the season.

Of course, the chart above reveals no change in Peralta’s BB/9, which is disappointing, as walks were a recurring problem for Peralta throughout the minors. His first-pitch strike percentage was below league average last year, and no matter his pitch selection, he’ll have to pound the zone more regularly. The 19 home runs he allowed during 2013 is also discouraging, and he continued surrendering them even during the improved 17-game stretch cited above.

But it’s March, so I’ll choose to look at Peralta’s positive attributes, not the least of which is his live arm; his 94.6 mph heater was tied for fourth last year among qualified starters. He also loves his ground balls (51 percent clip), which, when combined with the manageable 0.6 HR/9 pace he displayed over 620.2 minor league innings, provides hope that he’ll stop feeding his gopher as often going forward. As the home runs decline, his strand rate will improve, just as it did in the second half, when it jumped six and a half percentage points to a decent 70.8 percent mark.

There’s also the matter of the Brewers themselves; while Peralta’s final 2013 statline justifies the 15 losses, it’s also true that the rookie was pitching for an 88-loss team, a record the Brewers figure to improve on in 2014 with a lineup that should have some punch. If Peralta can provide halfway decent results, he could very well pick up 13 or 14 wins.

Which isn’t to say Peralta is a dependable mixed league starter, just that he’s got upside, which is more than what could be said for many of his contemporaries at the late stage in the draft. Some owners will be scared off by his 2013 season’s overall line, but I’m always encouraged when a guy with Peralta’s talent shows improvement in the second half. As the season dawns, it’s hard to recommend him beyond spot starter duty in mixed leagues, but even if his ADP creeps up as March progresses, it seems safe to pick Peralta as a guy who will outperform his cheap price on draft day.

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Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.

7 Responses to “Wily Peralta: Sliding his Way to Improvement”

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  1. nellyson says:

    Nice article. Wily was one of my late round sleeper targets and this seems to confirm his value as one. Best case scenario he’s a sick steal, worst case – you drop him after a month or so.

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  2. tylersnotes says:

    I’ve got Peralta stashed in a 16 team dynasty, and I like his long-term upside in that format. For 2014, I would rather take the risk with Josh Johnson to be the one Padres starter who inexplicably stays healthy just to spite all fantasy analysts.

    The concern with Peralta is that he’s the first SP the brewers cut if he underperforms. They’re a top heavy rotation, with some ugly depth behind Peralta, but he seems like the one guy most likely to lose if anyone else has a great spring training or if he shows the slightest sign of weakness.

    The beauty of the SPs available in the last 2-3 rounds of most mixed league drafts is that guys exactly the same will also be available on the waivers. In a redraft mixed league format I’d rather take the risk on Josh Johnson in the last round, let Peralta sit on waivers and make a claim for him if he gets a job out of spring training. If some other owner gets him and he lives up to his upside, bully for that owner.

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    • Karl de Vries says:


      All good points. Was debating mentioning Tyler Thornburg’s looming presence as a possible competitor in case Peralta falters, but then again, if Peralta isn’t pitching well, he won’t have lot of fantasy value anyway. And you’re absolutely right — in a rotation of Garza, Lohse, Gallardo and Estrada, Peralta is the first man out. As for taking JJ over Peralta, that’s something of a toss-up — both have upside, though JJ is probably more extreme in regard to risk-reward.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.


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  3. Swfcdan says:

    Nice simple sleeper post.

    I’ve just traded Ike Davis for him in my deep keeper league. Ike was a bench player anyway so much rather have a backup arm that could turn into something.

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  4. GilaMonster says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    Because he is a Brewer and they by far have the worst pitching development in baseball. The mechanics are soo bad.

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    • Kyle says:

      Lol at “his mechanics are soo bad.” I’m sure you are qualified to make that claim, especially with your either ignorance (few prospects turn out so the busts of Jungmann/Bradley doesn’t count for much, how a team drafts affects quality of players in minors, correlation does not equal causation) and/or bias. Either way, your comment should not be taken seriously.

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  5. garett68 says:

    Quick Side note, Looking to fill out the rest of a new Otto League (This is Fantasy Baseball). Auction Draft, Fangraphs Points, group arbitration $99, draft on 3/28. Email me at garettmarcum@gmail.com

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