Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder David Peralta is batting under .200 through his first eight games
There is no question that Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder David Peralta has not started the 2017 season the way he would have liked.
Coming into Wednesday’s series finale with the San Francisco Giants, Arizona ranked second in the majors in batting average (.308) and first in runs scored (49), runs per game (6.13) and run differential (+16).
However, Peralta has yet to make a significant contribution to the offensive onslaught. Through his first eight games of 2017, the 29-year-old Valencia, Venezuela native has just six hits in his first 33 at-bats with three walks. That comes out to an ugly .182 average, 18 points below the Mendoza line. Peralta is getting on-base at just .250 clip with a .644 slugging percentage.
Despite his early struggles, it is clear that manager Torey Lovullo has faith in his right-fielder. Six of Peralta’s eight starts this season has seen him in the two-hole. If you subscribe to sabermetrics, some will say the player occupying the second spot should be the team’s best or second-best hitter.
Traditionally, players in the two-hole make contact and have the ability to get the leadoff man over or get on base for the heart of the order. Managers often will put left-handed batters in this spot because if the leadoff man gets on, the first baseman will stand close to the bag, leaving a gap on a lefty’s pull side.
The only problem is that Peralta has not reached base, and Diamondbacks’ lead-off hitters have been inconsistent. They are just 10-for-42 (.238) with a pedestrian .256 on-base percentage. In fact, the leadoff man has not reached base to start the game this season.
Peralta only played in 48 games last season, but he hit .322 (19-for-59) this spring. When he is healthy, Peralta can produce; he proved that in 2015, hitting .312 in 149 games with 17 home runs.
So what should everybody make of his slow start? Let’s dive deeper.
Whiffs and bad luck
Two numbers that should not associate with each other have aligned for Peralta, and makde his start puzzling.
Coming into play Wednesday, Peralta struck out 11 times in 33 at-bats. That adds up to a 30.6 strike-out rate and, the 18th worst mark in the National League. High strikeout totals are becoming a trend for several Diamondbacks hitters, including Jake Lamb, who has the seventh highest K% in the N.L. (33.3). Yasmany Tomas is not far behind (31.0).
If a player is not putting the ball in play, success will be difficult. Half of Peralta’s hits have been for extra bases, and that’s translated into a hard contact rate of 50 percent. So how could all of that correlate?
That is where BABIP, or batting average on balls in play, comes into the picture. As a team, the Diamondbacks .358 BABIP is the second-highest in baseball, but Peralta has experienced a fair share of bad luck. His BABIP sits at .200.
Anybody who has watched Diamondbacks games this year knows that the “Freight Train” has hit balls hard that were caught. For example, he just missed a home run on opening day.
If Peralta can lower his strikeout percentage, look for his bad luck to turn around and hard hit balls to turn into hits and home runs.
Hopefully, the rain stays away as the Diamondbacks look for a third-straight series win to open a season for the first time in franchise history.
The Giants took the opener and the Diamondbacks claimed game two.
What: Diamondbacks (7-2) at Giants (3-6)
When: 7:15 p.m. MST
Where: AT&T Park
Pitching Matchup: RHP Shelby Miller (1-0, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Cain (0-0, 8.31 ERA)
TV/Radio: FSAZ/Arizona Sports 98.7 F.M.
Weather: 64 degrees, rain possible with 19 mph winds at 7:00 p.m.